United Kingdom ambassador weighs in on UN's new North Korea sanctions

Angelica Greene
September 13, 2017

The UN Security Council voted unanimously to ban North Korea's profitable textile exports and cap fuel supplies to Kim Jong-un's regime.

Quite apart from the United Nations, the US Treasury has its own sanctions regime blacklisting companies and people who are said to have assisted Pyongyang in developing nuclear weapons.

North Korea's embassy in Lima declined comment.

"Hostile sanctions are like a delusion tantamount to expecting foolishly that the ocean would dry up", one official told CNN, emphasizing the government has not yet released an official reaction.

Often off-the-cuff, Trump's tweets are playing a key role in ratcheting up tensions in the region over North Korea's burgeoning nuclear weapons program.

The US proposed new sanctions targeting exports of oil into the reclusive state, the trade in textiles and also the assets of some state entities and Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un himself.

But later, the USA put forward another draft that removed the full oil embargo, asset freeze, travel ban for Kim and softened the language on foreign workers and other issues.

Infact, both China and Russian Federation have proposed a freeze-for-freeze stance, where North Korea can be asked to curb its nuclear program in return of US and South Korea stopping their military practices. But China said after Monday's vote it supported the resolution.

China's United Nations ambassador, Liu Jieyi, called for a resumption of negotiations "sooner rather than later". The only sanction that has been retained from the US original wish list is a ban on exports of North Korean textiles.

Von Hippel co-authored a report for Nautilus earlier this month that found even a major reduction in Chinese oil exports to North Korea would likely have only a muted impact on military activities because Pyongyang can safely be assumed to have significant stockpiles of oil.

"It is up to the worldwide community to see that these resolutions are implemented", he warned.

Bitcoin and other forms of virtual money - known as cryptocurrencies - appeal to North Korea as the US pursues worldwide sanctions aimed at further isolating the country, according to a new report from FireEye.

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Conversely, the US must deal with the bellicose rhetoric from North Korea which routinely threatens to strike the United States. Trump has vowed not to allow North Korea to possess a nuclear missile capable of hitting the United States.

"Oil is the life blood of North Korea's effort to build and fund a nuclear weapon", Haley said.

Among other concessions the new text also softens the inspection by force of North Korean ships suspected of carrying cargo prohibited by the United Nations and drops a proposed assets freeze on the state-owned Air Koryo airline.

These additional measures were also included to limit North Korea's ability to smuggle products like coal and iron - particularly on the high seas.

Asked if the Seoul government would draw up its own sanctions on the North in line with the UNSC's latest step, he said that it is important to make sure that all existing resolutions and sanctions are faithfully implemented.

"These UN resolutions only work when complemented by robust US sanctions which is exactly what happened with Iran", said Anthony Ruggiero, a former deputy director of the US Treasury Department and an expert in the use of targeted financial measures for Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

"We're convinced that diverting the gathering menace from the Korean Peninsula could be done not through further and further sanctions, but by political means", he said.

Ms Haley struck a softer tone Monday than she had last week, when she said Kim Jong Un was "begging for war" and USA patience was "not unlimited".

According to Chinese customs data, North Korea imports almost 2.2 million barrels a year in petroleum products, but some USA officials believe the true number is much higher: about 4.5 million barrels.

The resolution bans all textile exports from the country - an annual revenue blow of around $800 million.

With India, Russia and Pakistan already nuclear powers, not to mention the US, China may end up with more nuclear armed neighbours than any other country in the world.

So co-operating with the latest round of strengthened sanctions is China's way of signalling its displeasure with what it sees as Pyongyang's reckless pursuit of nuclear and missile programmes. While the draft proposed by the United States included Kim as of five targets alongside younger sister and Propaganda and Agitation Department vice director Kim Yo-jong and Minister of People's Armed Forces Pak Yong-sik, the final resolution listed only Pak.

The move comes in the wake of the North's sixth and most powerful nuclear detonation test on September 3. The test spurred global concern that Pyongyang may be planning more such tests, possibly of long-range missiles.

Other reports by GizPress

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