NEW YORK CITY – The United Nations Security Council Monday unanimously approved a watered-down version of a U.S.-drafted resolution imposing more sanctions on North Korea in response to the rogue regime’s test of a hydrogen bomb this month.
The resolution drafted by the U.S. would have implemented a broad range of measures, including imposing a full oil embargo on the communist country. However, after closed-door negotiations, the sanctions that passed 15-0 in the Council did not include that oil embargo.
The softening was likely meant to prevent Russia and China from using their vetoes to overrule the resolution. Both countries have called for the Security Council to move away from sanctions, and, instead, focus on a return to the negotiating table via the Six Party Talks.
The resolution that passed reduces about 30 percent of oil imports to the country via an annual cap of two million barrels a year and bans the supply of natural gas to the country, according to a fact sheet by the U.S. Mission.
The resolution bans the export of textiles (worth an estimated $800 million a year), bans joint ventures with North Korea and also bans North Korean laborers from working abroad, preventing the regime from profiting by taxing those laborers. It also retained an item that allows member states to interdict North Korean vessels if they have been flagged by a Security Council commission.
While the resolution was perhaps not everything the U.S. and its allies would have hoped for, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley hailed the vote as a victory and a sign of the Council’s unity and resilience in the face of North Korea.
“These are by far the strongest ever measures imposed on North Korea,” she said, noting that 90 percent of the regime’s declared exports are now banned:
“But we all know that these steps only work if all nations implement them completely and aggressively,” she added.
U.K. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft noted that it was the most stringent sanctions resolutions put on any country by the U.N. in the twenty-first century.
“We tightened the screw, and we stand ready to tighten it further,” he said.
Chinese Ambassador Liu Jieyi urged North Korea to “take seriously the expectations and the will of the international community,” but he also warned members that the crisis “must be resolved peacefully,” reiterating its urge for all countries to keep a cool head and avoid rhetoric that could escalate the situation, a possible reference to some of the more hawkish language President Trump used in recent weeks.
Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya warned that deeper sanctions could have humanitarian repercussions in the country and said that Russia emphasized provisions in U.N. resolutions that called for negotiation and dialogue
“Ignoring them means a direct violation of consensus agreement reached in the Council,” he said.
Additionally, Nebenzya criticized the denial of the U.S. to include a provision to use the offices of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as a mediator for talks and said it was a “big mistake” to ignore the Russian-China roadmap.
The passage of the resolution comes the same day North Korea’s Foreign Ministry used the sixteenth anniversary of 9/11 to warn the U.S. that it would face “the greatest pain and suffering” if it went through with the sanctions.
“The forthcoming measures to be taken by the DPRK will cause the U.S. the greatest pain and suffering it had ever gone through in its entire history,” the Foreign Ministry statement said.