UN imposes new sanctions against North Korea

Press TV – The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has voted unanimously in favor of imposing new sanctions on North Korea following its latest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test, a move that could exert crippling pressure on the peninsular country’s struggling economy.

Members of the UN Security Council voted 15-0 on Friday in favor of a resolution that seeks to ban almost 90 percent of the North-bound exports of refined petroleum products by limiting them to 500,000 barrels a year.

The newly adopted measure would also restrict the export of crude oil to the North at four million barrels a year. Furthermore, it demands the repatriation of North Koreans working abroad within 12 months.

In a bid to further strangle North Korea’s external sources of funding, the US-drafted resolution prevents the country from exporting a number of items, including machinery, food products, lumber, electrical equipment, vessels, and other products and resources.

It also forbids the export of industrial equipment, machinery, transportation vehicles, and industrial metals to the North. Furthermore, the new measure has subjected the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces and 15 North Korean nationals to a global asset freeze and travel ban.

The resolution also allows other countries to confiscate, examine and freeze any vessel in their ports or territorial waters that they believe was shipping banned cargo or involved in prohibited activities.

On November 29, North Korea announced that it had successfully tested an ICBM in a “breakthrough” that places the US mainland within range of its nuclear weapons, whose warheads could endure re-entry to the Earth’s atmosphere. The controversial test drew quick and widespread condemnations, with Nikki Haley, the US envoy to the UN, threatening to destroy Pyongyang in case of a possible war.

The resolution “sends the unambiguous message to Pyongyang that further defiance will invite further punishments and isolation,” said Haley, following the vote on Friday.

‘Korean Peninsula crisis could spiral out of control’

Wu Haitao, the Chinese envoy to the UN, slammed Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile test launches and at the same time criticized the US and its regional allies for worsening the already tense situation in the Korean Peninsula through conducting joint military drills.

“The parties concerned have continued to expand military exercises and scale up their shows of force. The escalation of tension on the peninsula, which has reached the point of risking spiraling out of control, is not in the interests of any party,” said Wu at the UNSC meeting.

China, which provides most of North Korea’s oil, has supported successive rounds of UNSC sanctions but had resisted past American calls to discontinue supplies to its neighbor.

Russia, for its part, called for an immediate cessation of ballistic activity on the peninsula, demanding all stakeholders show openness to “genuine” dialogue aimed at resolving the crisis.

Vladimir Safronkov, the Russian deputy ambassador to the UN, called for “an abandonment of scaling up military infrastructure” and a “reduction in the scale of maneuvers being conducted.”

He also stressed “the importance of establishment of an atmosphere of trust among states in the region.”

Earlier on Friday, a spokesperson for North Korea’s Foreign Ministry condemned US President Donald Trump’s recently issued national security strategy, which proposed the possible use of “overwhelming force” against Pyongyang, as the latest American policy striving to “stifle” the North “and turn the entire Korean peninsula” into an outpost of American hegemony.

The spokesperson further added that the US “criminal document” was “nothing but the proclamation of aggression.”

North Korea has been under a raft of crippling UN sanctions since 2006 over its nuclear tests as well as multiple rocket and missile launches. Pyongyang has firmly defended its military program as a deterrent against the hostile policies of the US and its regional allies, including South Korea and Japan.

North Korea has already demanded a halt to what it called “brutal sanctions” imposed by the UNSC, saying the previous bans imposed after Pyongyang’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3 constitute “genocide.”