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UN measure said to target $1 billion in North Korean exports

LiveMint logoLiveMint 05-08-2017 Kambiz Foroohar

New York: A United Nations Security Council resolution negotiated by the US and China seeks to cut all North Korean exports of coal, iron, lead and seafood in response to Pyongyang’s ballistic missile tests, according to two diplomats familiar with the measure.

The new ban would target about $1 billion of North Korean exports, according to one of the UN diplomats, who asked not to be identified discussing confidential negotiations. It would also ban “the opening of new joint ventures or cooperative entities with” North Korea, according to a draft of the resolution seen by Bloomberg News. Existing joint ventures would be prevented from expanding their operations.

The collaboration by the US and China is a sign that the measure — to be debated on Saturday — is likely to pass without being vetoed by any Security Council member. Sanctions against North Korea require China’s agreement because it is the isolated country’s biggest trading partner by far. The US and China had been negotiating the draft text for about a month.

The resolution also signals a shift by the US, which declined to call a meeting of the Security Council after North Korea tested a second intercontinental ballistic missile in July. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said at the time that another resolution would be pointless. The US has blamed China and Russia for preventing stronger measures against Kim Jong Un’s regime.

Still, with the North Korean leader successfully ramping up his weapons program, analysts and diplomats expressed doubts that any new trade measures would deter him from seeking to develop a ballistic missile system that could deliver nuclear warheads to the US.

China’s decision this year to place a temporary halt on coal imports from North Korea — even as exports rose -- appeared to have little impact beyond highlighting the limits of Beijing’s influence over its neighbour. It also prompted a rare rebuke from North Korean-controlled press against China, which it said was “dancing to the tune of the U.S.”

The new draft resolution also adds additional individuals and entities, including the Foreign Trade Bank, a state-owned bank that acts as North Korea’s “primary foreign exchange bank” to a UN sanctions list.

But short of war, which military analysts and diplomats say would probably lead to a devastating counterattack on Seoul, sanctions are among the few options the U.S. and its allies have.

“Sanctions alone will never solve this situation,” said Carl Skau, Sweden’s deputy ambassador who had seen a copy of the draft resolution. “More creative diplomacy is urgently needed. A long-term solution can only be achieved through dialogue and negotiations.”

Southeast Asian foreign ministers on Saturday called on North Korea to exercise self-restraint as they expressed “grave concern” over Pyongyang’s missile launches.

“These developments seriously threaten peace, security and stability in the region and the world,” ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations said in a statement released in Manila, where they are meeting this weekend.

They also urged North Korea to fully comply with UN Security Council resolutions, and reiterated support for the “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner.” Bloomberg

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