The United Nations has slapped a fresh round of sanctions on North Korea after its sixth and largest to date nuclear test. These measures will ban textile exports and restrict oil imports in an attempt to starve North Korea of fuel and income for said weapons programs.
The US had originally suggested much harsher sanctions including a total ban on all oil imports. Pyongyang responded to the sanctions saying it “explicitly rejected” what it calls an “illegal” resolution.
“The forthcoming actions by DPRK [Democratic Republic of Korea] will make the US suffer the greatest pain it has ever experienced in all its history.
Han Tae Song, North Korea’s ambassador to the UN, spoke out at a conference in Geneva:
The US called for a total ban on oil imports last week which was seen by some analysts as potentially destabilizing for the North Korean regime. The vote was passed unanimously on Monday with Pyongyang’s allies Russia and China agreeing to the reduced measures as well.
These new sanctions agreed by the UN include:
- Limits on crude oil and oil product imports with China, Pyongyang’s main economic ally, supplying North Korea most of its crude oil
- A ban on textile exports, which is Pyongyang’s second-biggest overall export worth more than $700m (£530m) yearly
- A ban on issue of new visas for North Korean overseas workers, which the US estimates would gradually cut off $500m of tax revenue every year
An asset freeze and a travel ban on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was proposed but were eventually dropped.
North Korea’s Trade numbers in 2016
After the vote, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told the Security Council: “We don’t take pleasure in further strengthening these sanctions today. We are not looking for war. The North Korean regime has not passed the point of no return, yet.“
“If North Korea continues this dangerous path, we will continue with further pressure. The choice is now theirs,” she added.
But the North Korean envoy weighed in saying: “Instead of making [the] right choice with rational analysis… the Washington regime finally gave in to economic, political, and military confrontation, obsessed with this wild dream of reversing the DPRK’s development of its nuclear force – which has already reached completion phase.”
What have previous sanctions against North Korea achieved?
The UN Security Council (which includes the US) has repeatedly slapped sanctions on North Korea:
- 30 November 2016: UN targeted North Korea’s invaluable coal trade with China by cutting exports by 60% under a new sales cap. Exports of copper, nickel, silver, zinc and the sale of statues were banned as well.
- What happened next? On 14 May 2017, North Korea tested what it called a “newly developed ballistic rocket” capable of carrying a payload of a large nuclear warhead.
- 2 June 2017: UN imposed an asset freeze and travel ban on 14 officials and 4 entities which included North Korea’s head of overseas spying operations.
- What happened next? On 4 July, North Korea claimed it successfully tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
- 6 August 2017: UN banned North Korean coal, ore, and other raw material exports and limited all investments in the country, costing Pyongyang an estimated $1BN – close to a third of its export economy.
- What happened next? On September 3rd, North Korea claimed to have tested a hydrogen bomb that could be miniaturized and loaded onto a long-range missile.
Both Russia and China stressed on their proposal that the US and South Korea put a hold on all military drills – which had angered North Korea – and asked to put the deployment of the controversial anti-missile system Thaad on hold, in exchange for Pyongyang’s cessation of its weapons programs as Beijing believes Thaad, which houses a powerful radar, is a security threat to China and the rest of southeast Asia.