UN slaps new sanctions on North Korea following missile tests

The United Nations Security Council Saturday unanimously approved new sanctions against North Korea in the aftermath of the communist nation’s first successful exams of intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States.

The sanctions resolving outlaws North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, leading, lead ore and seafood resources that are worth over$ 1 billion to the regime of Kim Jong Un. North Korea exported an estimated$ 3 billion worth of goods last year.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley praised the new sanctions, telling council members after the vote that it is “the single largest economic package ever leveled against the North Korean regime.”

But she warned that it is not enough and “we should not fool ourselves into thinking we have solved the problem — not even close.”

“The threat of an outlawed nuclearized North Korean dictatorship remains …( and) is rapidly growing more dangerous, ” Haley told council members after the vote.

Countries are also banned from devoting any additional permits to Northern korean laborers — another source of money for Pyongyang. And it proscribes all new joint ventures with Northern korean companies and bans new foreign investment in existing ones.

The resolution was drafted by the U.S. and negotiated with North Korea’s neighbor and ally China. It is aimed at increasing economic pressure on Pyongyang to return to negotiations on its nuclear and missile programs.

The Security Council has already enforced six rounds of sanctions that have failed to halt North Korea’s drive to improve its ballistic missile and atomic weapon capabilities.

“All of this ICBM and nuclear irresponsibility has to stop, ” Haley told reporters as she headed to the council to vote.

The resolution condemns the launches “in the strongest terms” and reiterates previous calls for North Korea to suspend all ballistic missile launchings and abandon its nuclear weapons and nuclear program “in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.”

A Security Council diplomat told the Associated Press that coal has been North Korea’s largest exportation, earning $1.2 billion last year when it was restricted by the Security Council in November to a maximum $400 million. This year, Pyongyang was estimated to earn $251 million from iron and iron ore exportations, $113 million from lead and lead ore exportations, and $295 million from fish and seafood exports, the envoy said.

The resolution also adds nine North Koreans, mainly officials or representatives of companies and banks, to the U.N. sanctions blacklist, banning their traveling and freezing their assets. It also imposes an asset freeze on two companies and two banks.

The council diplomat, who was not authorized to speak publicly and insisted on anonymity, called the newly sanctioned Foreign Trade Bank “a very critical clear house for foreign exchange.”

The Mansudae Overseas Project Group of Companies, which was also added to the blacklist, is described in the resolution as shall include participation in exporting employees for building, including of monuments, in Africa and Southeast Asia.

The resolution asks the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against North Korea to ban the import of many more so-called dual-use items, which have commercial purposes but can also be used in conventional, biological, chemical or nuclear weapons.

It also gives the committee a green light to designate specific ships that are breaking sanctions from entering ports all over the world and to work with Interpol to enforce travel bannings on Northern korean on international sanctions blacklist.

The resolution expresses regret at North Korea’s “massive diversion of its scarce resources toward its development of nuclear weapons and a number of expensive ballistic missile programs” — a point been pointed out by Haley.

It notes U.N. findings that well over half the population lacks enough food and medical care, while a one-quarter suffers from chronic malnutrition.

“These sanctions will cut deep, and in doing so will give the North Korean leadership a savor of the deprivations they have chosen to inflict on the North Korean people, ” Haley said. “Revenues aren’t going toward feeding its people. Instead, the North Korean regime is literally starved its people and enslaving them in mines and mills in order to fund these illegal missile programs.”

Though the economic sanctions have teeth, Washington didn’t get everything it wanted.

In early July, Haley told the Security Council that if it was unified, the international community could cut off major sources of hard currency to North Korea, restrict petroleum to its military and weapons programs, increase air and maritime restrictions and hold senior officials accountable.

Neither oil nor new air regulations are included in the resolution.

Its adoption follows U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s commentaries Wednesday reassuring North Korea that Washington is not trying regime change or an accelerated reunification of the Korean Peninsula — remarks welcomed by China’s foreign minister.

China’s U.N. Ambassador Liu Jieyi said the Chinese government hopes the United States will translate these commitments “into concrete policies” toward North Korea.

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told Moscow hopes Tillerson’s assurances “would be clear that the United States is not seeking to dismantle the already existing … situation( in North Korea) or to force to reunite the country or militarily intervene in the country.”

Tillerson also said the United States wants to talk eventually with North Korea but believes discussions would not be productive if Pyongyang comes with the intent of maintaining its nuclear weapons.

North Korea has repeatedly said it will never give up its nuclear arsenal, which it sees as a guarantee of its security.

The resolution reiterates language from previous ones supporting a return to six-party talks with the goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula; expressing the Security Council’s commitment “to a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to the situation”; and emphasizing the importance of maintaining peace and stability in northeast Asia.

Liu told “China has been constructing tireless efforts to promote denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and to uphold peace and stability” and will keep working to convince other governments to support its suspension-for-suspension proposal.

Under the proposal and a roadmap been endorsed by Russia, North Korea would suspend nuclear and rocket tests in exchange for the U.S. and South Korea suspending their joint military exercises. It also includes security measures for both North Korea and South Korea leading to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

But Haley told the Security Council that U.S.-South Korean military exercises have been carried out regularly and openly for virtually 40 years and “they will continue.”

Russia’s Nebenzia stressed that sanctions “need to be a tool for engaging the country in constructive talks” and must not be used for “economic asphyxiation” of the country or “to intentionally worsen the economic situation.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report .

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