Friday, 23 February, 2018

United Nations unanimously backs new sanctions on North Korea

Chancellor Angela Merkel says Germany will support an effort to hold talks with North Korea along the lines of the deal done with IranMore Chancellor Angela Merkel says Germany will support an effort to hold talks with North Korea along the lines of the deal done with IranMore
Melinda Barton | 12 September, 2017, 14:07

The United Nations Security Council reportedly voted unanimously on Monday to increase sanctions against North Korea after the threatening state launched its latest nuclear weapons test earlier this month.

"We are very pleased with this package", the official said of the resolution, even though it required USA concessions to China and Russian Federation to win approval.

The new draft places a travel ban on a member of the Workers' Party of Korea Central Military Commission and freezes the assets of the commission, which commands and controls North Korea's military and directs the country's military defense industries. Almost 80 percent of the textile exports went to China.

In addition, according to figures from the International Trade Centre, a joint World Trade Organization-United Nations agency, the North imported $115-million-worth of refined oil products - which could include petrol and aircraft fuel - from China a year ago. But the USA official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said North Korea now receives about 4.5 million barrels of refined petroleum products, which would mean a more than 50 per cent cut.

The new sanctions ban 90 percent of North Korea's publicly-reported exports and cap the amount of oil the country is able to import, according to a USA official familiar with the negotiations.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley said the tough new measures were a message to Pyongyang that "the world will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea", but she also held out the prospect of a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

The resolution, however, was much weaker than the US -proposed original draft that included cutting off crude supplies to the North and freezing overseas assets of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The Post cites US court documents that describe a web of "front companies" formed by Russian citizens to specifically hide deals with North Korea. The names of a few North Korean officials have also been added to UN's blacklist, which results in the freezing of their assets overseas and a worldwide travel ban.

"If it agrees to stop its nuclear programme, it can reclaim its future. if North Korea continues its risky path, we will continue with further pressure", said Haley, who credited a "strong relationship" between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping for the successful resolution negotiations.

Pyongyang warned the United States on Monday that it would pay a "due price" for spearheading efforts on UN sanctions over its nuclear programme, which it said was part of "legitimate self-defensive measures". "I can't go into the details of what that is specifically, but it certainly heightens the level of threat that the North Korean nuclear and missile threat poses".

"We don't take pleasure in further strengthening sanctions today".

It followed up with a sixth nuclear test on September 3, its largest to date, which it said was a hydrogen bomb small enough to fit onto a missile and prompted global outrage.

Negotiating with North Korea may be diplomatically challenging and politically unappealing, but the United States needs to seriously consider opening talks sooner rather than later.