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Thursday 20 September 2018

UN security council will vote on new North Korea sanctions today

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his sister Kim Yo Jong, left, in 2015 during a visit to a military unit in North Korea. Photo: AP
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his sister Kim Yo Jong, left, in 2015 during a visit to a military unit in North Korea. Photo: AP

Edith M Lederer

The UN Security Council is meeting on Friday to vote on whether to impose new sanctions on North Korea, including sharply cutting limits on its imports of refined oil, forcing all North Koreans working overseas to return home within 12 months, and cracking down on the country's shipping.

The draft resolution circulated to all 15 council members on Thursday would not go as far as the toughest-ever sanctions that have been sought by the Trump administration, such as prohibiting all oil imports and freezing international assets of North Korea's government and its leader, Kim Jong Un.

The resolution would cap North Korea's crude oil imports at four million barrels a year and limit its imports of refined oil products, including diesel and kerosene, to 500,000 barrels a year. That would be a nearly 90% cut in imported fuels that are key to North Korea's economy.

The draft, obtained by The Associated Press, would prohibit the export of food products, machinery, electrical equipment, earth and stones, wood and vessels from North Korea.

It would also ban all countries from exporting industrial equipment, machinery, transportation vehicles and industrial metals to the country.

The proposed sanctions are the Security Council's response to North Korea's test on November 29 of its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile yet, which the government said is capable of hitting anywhere on the US mainland.

It was North Korea's 20th launch of a ballistic missile this year and added to fears that the North will soon have a nuclear arsenal that can viably target the US mainland.

The United States drafted the resolution and reportedly negotiated it with China before circulating the final text to the rest of the council.

The last sanctions resolution was adopted on September 11 in response to North Korea's sixth and strongest nuclear test explosion eight days earlier.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley said the Trump administration believed the new sanctions imposed at that time, combined with previous measures, would ban more than 90% of North Korea's exports reported in 2016.

Those sanctions prohibited North Korea from importing all natural gas liquids and condensates. It also banned all textile exports and prohibited any country from authorising new work permits for North Korean workers - two key sources of hard currency for the northeast Asian nation.

The US Mission said then that a cutoff on new work permits would eventually cost North Korea about 500 million dollars (£370m) a year once current work permits expire. The United States estimated about 93,000 North Koreans are working abroad, a US official said.

The resolution which will be voted on by the council on Friday would ban North Koreans from working abroad. It expresses concern that the foreign earnings from these workers are being used to support the country's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The resolution would require all countries to send North Korean workers and safety monitors home within 12 months.

Like the previous sanctions resolution, the new draft reiterates the Security Council's 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."

The proposed resolution calls for a resumption of six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program aimed at the peaceful denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. It reiterates the importance of maintaining peace and stability in northeast Asia and "expresses its commitment to a peace, diplomatic and political solution to the situation ... through dialogue".

Press Association

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