US seeks UN ban on North Korea exports of coal, iron, lead and seafood

August 5, 2017

A US-drafted United Nations security council resolution aims to slash by a third North Korea’s $3bn annual export revenue by banning the country’s trade of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood.

A council diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was a high confidence that North Korea ally China and Russia would support the draft resolution, which was circulated to the 15 security council members on Friday.

The United States is aiming for a vote on Saturday to impose the stronger sanctions over North Korea’s two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July, though Russia and some other council members are asking for more time, diplomats said.

A resolution needs nine votes in favour, and no vetoes by the US, China, Russia, France or Britain, to be adopted.

The draft resolution would also prohibit countries from increasing the current numbers of North Korean laborers working abroad, ban new joint ventures with North Korea and any new investment in current joint ventures.

“These are export sectors where this money is viewed as a critical, critical source of hard currency that the North immediately turns around into its fantastically expensive war machine and these just amazingly expensive ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs,” the diplomat said.

“These sanctions are not targeted at the people of North Korea.”
The draft resolution would also add nine individuals and four entities to the UN blacklist, including North Korea’s primary foreign exchange bank, subjecting them to a global asset freeze and travel ban.

The US and China have been negotiating the draft text for the past month. Typically, they agree sanctions on North Korea before formally involving other council members.

US President Donald Trump’s administration has been frustrated that China has not done more to rein in North Korea and Washington has threatened to impose new sanctions on Chinese firms doing business with Pyongyang.

“The Trump administration should issue new sanctions against China at the same time the new resolution is adopted as Beijing is still violating US law by allowing its companies, individuals and banks to facilitate North Korea’s sanctions evasion,” said Anthony Ruggiero, a Foundation for Defense of Democracies senior fellow and former US Treasury official.

China has also been upset by possible moves by the Trump administration to exert trade pressure on Beijing.

“[The draft] appears to reflect a compromise between the US and China in several areas,” Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said. “It notably does not include any reduction in Chinese crude oil shipments to North Korea.”

While supportive of new UN action, Security Council member Sweden said sanctions alone could not solve the problem.

“More creative diplomacy is urgently needed. A long-term solution can only be achieved through dialogue and negotiations,” said Sweden’s deputy UN ambassador Carl Skau.

The United States had been informally keeping Britain and France in the loop on the bilateral negotiations, while US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said China had been sharing the draft and negotiating with Russia.