- UN’s top body has adopted the largest single package of sanctions against North Korea so far.
- New sanctions have been initiated by the US after Pyongyang started testing intercontinental ballistic missiles.
- UN Security Council members with veto-power China and Russia have agreed to support them.
- Sanctions ban all North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood in order to cut its USD 3 billion export revenue by USD 1 billion.
- Oil supplies to North Korea have not been included in the sanctions package.
- It remains to be seen if the new and earlier sanctions on Pyongyang will be strictly implement, and influence the Kim Jong-un regime for talks.
The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted new sanctions on North Korea – said to be the single largest sanctions package on it so far – as punishment for the recent intercontinental ballistic missile tests of the Kim Jong-un regime.
The anti-North Korean sanctions proposed by the US and adopted by the UN’s top body, which includes China and Russia among its permanent members with veto power, come after at the end of July, North Korea test-fired an improved intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a Hwasong-14, that could strike the US mainland, purportedly, as far east as Chicago.
That was the second missile alleged to be an ICBM to be tested by the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, after on July 4, it carried out a ballistic missile test, and claimed that the rocket was the much coveted intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
North Korea has also threatened that it would carry out a nuclear strike “at the heart of the United States” if the US attempts a regime change in Pyongyang, after recent hints to that end by CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
North Korea’s latest missile test was its 13th (and tenth successful one) since US President Donald Trump assumed office in January.
A US nuclear expert has warned that Kim Jong-un might be coming closer to being able to produce a hydrogen bomb, also known as thermonuclear weapon, as it is able to produce tritium, a key element.
The US State Department has just announced a ban on all Americans from traveling to North Korea following the death of US college student Otto Warmbier who passed away in June 2017 after 17 months in North Korean captivity.
Last week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson adopted a markedly conciliatory tone towards the regime of Kim Jong-un, assuring that the US sought no regime change in North Korea, and that it was not the communist country’s enemy.
Later, however, the US State Department complained international media had misreported Tillerson’s remarks, and declared that talks with North Korea were possible only if the regime in Pyongyang made clear its preparedness to give up its nuclear weapons.
The US, Japan, and South Korea have agreed that the latest developments in North Korea posed a “new-phase” security threat, while US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared their position in favor of a tougher response.
‘Single Largest Sanctions Package’
The Security Council of the United Nations on Saturday adopted unanimously new international sanctions on North Korea in response to Pyonyang’s recent intercontinental ballistic missile tests, depriving the communist regime of key sources of export revenue.
The sanctions provided in Resolution 2371 include a ban on all exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood, and aim to cut North Korea’s annual export revenue of USD 3 billion by a third, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.
The US-drafted resolution also calls for limiting the number of North Korean workers overseas and restricts new joint ventures with North Korea and additional investment in current ventures.
It subjects nine North Korean individuals and four entities to asset freezes and travel bans.
However, the UN-back sanctions eschew restrictions on supplies of oil to North Korea, apparently due to China and Russia’s opposition over alleged concerns they could deepen the humanitarian crisis in the cash-strapped nation.
US Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said the new sanctions increased the penalty for North Korea’s ballistic missile activity to a whole new level.
“This resolution is the single largest economic sanctions package ever leveled against the North Korean regime,” she said.
“This is the most stringent set of sanctions on any country in a generation,” Haley declared.
The latest resolution is the 8th adopted by the UN Security Council since 2006 in response to North Korea’s five nuclear tests and long-range missile launches.
In the previous resolutions against Pyongyang adopted last year, the Council set export caps on coal, the country’s main trade item. But critics say tightened sanctions have done little to stop North Korea’s missile and nuclear development.
Getting China, Russia on Board
Negotiations for the new resolution began after Pyongyang conducted its first test of an ICBM on July 4. Following its second test on July 28, the U.S. reached a deal on the sanctions with China, North Korea’s top trading partner and ally. Despite initial opposition, Russia also approved the resolution.
Consent from China and Russia is crucial as they are two of the five permanent veto-wielding members of the council.
Haley thanked the Chinese delegation in particular for the “important contributions” they made to the resolution.
She stressed, however, that the international community should come together to further increase pressure on Pyongyang.
“We must work together to fully implement the sanctions we imposed today, and those imposed in past resolutions. The step we take together today is important. But we must not fool ourselves into thinking we have solved the problem. Not even close,” Haley added.
“The North Korean threat has not left us. It is rapidly growing more dangerous. Further action is required,” she warned, noting that the US would continue to take “prudent defensive measures” to protect itself and its allies.
South Korean Ambassador to the UN Cho Tae-yul welcomed the resolution, saying Pyongyang must bear the consequences of its flagrant violations of existing resolutions.
He added that while Norht Korea’s regime seemed to be under the delusion that its nuclear and missile programs would ensure its security, they would only serve to strengthen the resolve of the international community.
Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi said the resolution did not intend to harm the North Korean people.
He urged Pyongyang to cease activities that might further escalate tensions but at the same time called for halting the deployment of the US THAAD missile defense system in South Korea, arguing it would not resolve the North Korean nuclear stalemate.
Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia said the sanctions were not an end in themselves but a means to engage Pyongyang in constructive talks.
Later in the day, US President Donald Trump said on his two Twitter feeds that the resolution deals a “very big financial impact” to North Korea.
“United Nations Resolution is the single largest economic sanctions package ever on North Korea. Over one billion dollars in cost to North Korea,” Trump declared.