UN council ratchets up pressure on NKorea, imposes harsher sanctions

UPDATE — 9/21, 1:21 a.m. EDT: During a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in New York Thursday, President Trump announced penalties will be leveled against any company doing business with North Korea.

“Our new executive order will cut off sources of revenue that fund North Korea’s efforts to develop the deadliest weapons known to humankind,” he said.

In addition to new U.S. sanctions, Trump also said China has issued an ultimatum to the country’s banks, ordering financial institutions to cease processing transactions originating in North Korea. 

 

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously agreed to impose further sanctions against North Korea last Monday, imposing a ban on all textile exports, but stopping short of a full embargo on oil imports.

The new penalties also include a ban on visas for North Korean overseas workers.

The ninth sanctions package in 11 years, the recent penalties are a response to North Korea’s repeated testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles and its nuclear-weapons program.

An initial proposal submitted to the security council called for a ban on both textiles and oil, and included a partial naval blockade.  However, to marshal support from contrarian UNSC members China and Russia, a watered down version was introduced and adopted, which severely limited North Korea’s ability to import oil.

A similar proposal to freeze Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un’s assets was dropped from the final resolution.

Under the final version of sanctions, textile exports are banned, but oil imports are capped at 2 million barrels a year.  China is North Korea’s main supplier of foreign refined oil.  Estimates place the textile export ban to cost North Korea over $700 million annually.

Following the sanctions package approval, Pyongyang responded with typical inflammatory rhetoric, vowing to “make the U.S. suffer the greatest pain it has ever experienced in its history.”

In the aftermath of the UNCS vote, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin warned China and threatened Beijing with a sanction package should China not carry out its obligations in regard to the UN resolutions.

Mr. Mnuchin specifically said the U.S. was weighing cutting off China from “accessing the U.S. and international dollar system.”

In the days following the UNSC vote, in defiance of the UN resolution, North Korea fired a second intermediate-range ballistic missile, which flew over Japan before crashing in the Pacific Ocean.

Its second test threatening Japan in less than a month, the launch inspired more talk in Washington over the possibility of a military solution on the Korean peninsula.

North Korea’s latest missile test also evoked a provocative tweet from the president of the United States:

 

[Reuters] [Financial Times] [BBC News] [The Telegraph] [NPR] [Photo courtesy KCNA/Reuters via Asia Times]