North Korea sanctions: UN council unanimously agrees on new measures

The UN security council agreed on implementing sanctions on Pyongyang, which will include a ban on the country's textile exports as well as placing a ceiling on their imports of crude oil

Photo: NBC News
Photo: NBC News

The UN security council has unanimously agreed on implementing sanctions on North Korea, thus imposing a ban on the country’s textile exports and placing a ceiling on the country’s imports of crude oil. 

The vote for the sanctions is the ninth package of measures imposed by the UN on Pyongyang in 11 years, for its nuclear and missile tests and has come as a relief to US diplomats, who feared Chinese abstention.

During negotiations on Sunday, the US conjured up a new draft of the sanctions resolution as the initial draft imposed a complete oil embargo and a partial naval blockade, to rally China and Russia into supporting the cause.

The final resolution imposed a ban on oil condensates exports to Pyongyang, capped refined petroleum exports at 2m barrels a year, cutting existing levels by half and maintaining international exports of crude oil to North Korea at existing levels; about 4m barrels a year. China is currently the main supplier of North Korea’s crude oil.

Western diplomats considered the vote to be a win for international unity in the face of North Korea’s provocations and pointed out that it represented the harshest sanctions regime imposed on the state to date.

The United Nations Security Council votes to pass a new sanctions resolution against North Korea. Photo: Al Jazeera
The United Nations Security Council votes to pass a new sanctions resolution against North Korea. Photo: Al Jazeera

French envoy to the UN, Francois Delattre said: “We are facing not a regional but a global threat, not a virtual but an immediate threat, not a serious but an existential threat”.

The US mission to the UN put out a statement saying: “this resolution reduces about 30% of oil provided to North Korea by cutting off over 55% of refined petroleum products going to North Korea,” the statement said. “Combined with the previous Security Council resolutions, over 90% of North Korea’s publicly reported 2016 exports of $2.7bn are now banned (coal, textiles, iron, seafood), which does not include revenues from overseas workers.”

US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said about the regime: “if it agrees to stop its nuclear program, it can reclaim its future. If it proves it can live in peace, the world will live in peace with it”, she told the security council following the adoption of the new sanctions.

However, many diplomats and observers seem less hopeful. UK ambassador to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, was asked why he thought the new sanctions would change North Korean behavior when the first eight resolutions had failed.

He replied: “first of all, these are significantly tougher sanctions. Secondly, you’re right that sanctions take time to have an impact, but it’s only over the last year or so that the Security Council has been sanctioning sectors of the economy”, speaking of the textile sector.

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