UN imposes harsh new sanctions on North Korea drafted by US, China

UN imposes harsh new sanctions on North Korea drafted by US, China

UN imposes harsh new sanctions on North Korea drafted by US, China

AP photo

The United Nations Security Council on March 2 unanimously adopted a resolution that dramatically expands existing U.N. sanctions on North Korea in response to its Jan. 6 nuclear test, a measure largely negotiated by Washington and Beijing. 

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said the new sanctions on Pyongyang go further than any U.N. sanctions regime in two decades and are aimed at cutting off funds for its nuclear and other banned weapons programs. 

Under the sanctions, all cargo going to and from North Korea must be inspected and North Korean trade representatives in Syria, Iran and Vietnam are among 16 individuals added to a U.N. blacklist, along with 12 North Korean entities. 

Previously states only had to inspect North Korean cargo shipments if they had reasonable grounds to believe they contained illicit goods. 

“Virtually all of the DPRK’s [North Korea] resources are channeled into its reckless and relentless pursuit of weapons of mass destruction,” Power told the council after the vote, adding that the cargo inspection provisions are “hugely significant.” 

After nearly two months of bilateral negotiations that at one point involved U.S. President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, China agreed to support the unusually tough measures intended to persuade its close ally North Korea to abandon its atomic weapons program. 

North Korea has been under U.N. sanctions since 2006 because of its four nuclear tests and multiple rocket launches. 

The sanctions came in response to its recent nuclear test and Feb. 7 rocket launch that Washington and its allies said used banned ballistic missile technology. Pyongyang said it was a peaceful satellite launch. 

The list of explicitly banned luxury goods has been expanded to include luxury watches, aquatic recreational vehicles, snowmobiles worth more than $2,000, lead crystal items and recreational sports equipment. 

The official North Korean news agency KCNA said on Feb. 29 the proposed sanctions were “a wanton infringement on [North Korea’s] sovereignty and grave challenge to it.” 

The proposal closes a gap in the U.N. arms embargo on Pyongyang by banning all weapons imports and exports. 

There is also an unprecedented ban on the transfer to North Korea of any item that could directly contribute to the operational capabilities of its armed forces, such as trucks that could be modified for military purposes.