New drastic sanctions in the UN against North Korea

Ⓒ GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/Archives – STEPHANIE KEITH – | UN Security Council meeting on North Korea on 4 September 2017 in New York

The UN Security Council is expected to adopt new drastic sanctions against North Korea on Monday, including a “progressive” oil embargo, on the initiative of Washington, which nevertheless had to deal with Moscow and Beijing.

The official position of China and Russia, with a right of veto, on an amended and final text issued Sunday night by the United States, is not known. A vote is expected around 20:00 GMT.

The first US draft resolution, released on Wednesday, was “maximum” on “absolutely everything” to punish the sixth North Korean nuclear test conducted on September 3, according to a diplomat.

It included a total and immediate embargo on oil, petroleum products and gas, the return of expatriates to North Korea (over 50,000, according to the UN), the freezing of Kim Jong-Un’s assets, a ban on imports of North Korean textiles and the necessary inspections by force of vessels on the high seas suspected of carrying cargoes prohibited by UN resolutions.

After four days of arduous negotiations with mainly China and Russia, two supporters of North Korea with which these countries share a border, the oil embargo has become “progressive” and should depend on the evolutions of the North Korean position, according to diplomats.

The freezing of assets of the North Korean leader, which Beijing and Moscow did not want, was removed from the text, while the ban on textiles was approved by the five permanent members of the Security Council with a right of veto the United States, China and Russia, France and Great Britain).

Measures concerning North Korean expatriates and forcible inspections of suspect ships have been “degraded”, according to a diplomatic source who did not detail the changes.

Ⓒ KCNA VIA KNS/AFP – STR – | North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, during a show reserved for nuclear scientists and technicians in Pyongyang, on an undated photo provided by the North Korean official agency KCNA

Originally, the United States, supported by London and Paris, wanted to ban the financing and employment of North Korean expatriates, which meant returning them all to their home country.

But Russia, which welcomes some 35,000 North Korean workers, has opposed this extreme measure, according to a source familiar with the negotiations. At the latest sanctions resolution, adopted on 5 August, the number of North Korean expatriate workers in the world had been capped.

“We were clear during close consultations with the Americans on the fact that oil should be included as part of the sanctions,” South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-Wha told reporters.

Whatever the final text adopted, it hoped that it would have “significant consequences in terms of increased economic pressure on North Korea.”

Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters that Beijing “approves new reactions and measures needed” by the UN Security Council in response to the latest nuclear test. Refusing to comment on China’s official position on the amended text, he hoped that the decision would be taken “on the basis of full consultation and consensus”.

– North Korean Diatribe –

A few hours after the US draft resolution was voted on, North Korea voiced strongly its opposition to what would constitute an eighth set of international sanctions against Pyongyang. The resolutions of the United Nations were each time more severe. They are aimed at pushing North Korea to negotiate its nuclear and conventional programs, which are considered threatening for international stability.

Ⓒ AFP – Vincent LEFAI – | The UN Security Council

On Monday, North Korea warned the United States that it would inflict “the greatest suffering and pain” if they persisted in wanting the UN to tighten the sanctions against it.

In a statement issued by the official KCNA news agency, the Foreign Ministry warns that if Washington “puts in place this + illegal resolution on tougher sanctions, North Korea will ensure that it is absolutely certain that the United States will pay the price “.

The last train of international sanctions against Pyongyang dates back to 5 August. It was the result of two shots of North Korean intercontinental missiles. It bans North Korea’s imports of coal, iron and fishing, and aims to deprive that country of $ 1 billion in revenue per year.

It has not yet produced any effects, being too recent and whereas the consequences of sanctions can only take place in the long term, when they are respected. For example, it took more than ten years of sanctions to get Iran to negotiate its nuclear program.

In a report released this weekend, UN experts note that “North Korea’s” sanctions regime is wider “,” and more “bypasses are numerous” coming from this country, whether it is for ” the arms embargo “,” financial sanctions “or” severe sectoral “.

Their document also denounces a random application of the sanctions and specifies that Pyongyang is mastered in the art of using third countries to forward its cargoes or to conclude financial transactions.

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