UN Watch

North Korea sanctions blunted by Russia, China in Security Council

The Security Council unanimously voted on September 11 a fresh round of sanctions to punish North Korea for its nuclear and missile programmes, but the measures sought by the United States were blunted by China and Russia.

Sep 12, 2017
The Security Council unanimously voted on September 11 a fresh round of sanctions to punish North Korea for its nuclear and missile programmes, but the measures sought by the United States were blunted by China and Russia. The concession made by Washington during a week of negotiations on the sanctions highlight the powerful influence that Beijing and Moscow with their veto powers wield against the US internationally when America cannot act unilaterally.
 
The Security Council, however, condemned Pyongyang for its “flagrant disregard” of its previous resolutions and demanded that it immediately suspend its ballistic missile and nuclear programmes.
 
Before the resolution was voted, North Korea's  official news agency quoted the Foreign Ministry as saying the country was “quite ready to use any ultimate means” to retaliate against the US for the sanctions and claiming it had “near-to-completion nuclear capability.”
 
The sanctions cap oil exports to Pyongyang, ban all textile exports from that country, restrict future employment of North Koreans abroad, allow countries to inspect ships going and coming from that country but without using force, and add more weapons-related items and technologies to the list of items banned for transfer to that country.
 
The sanctions fell short of the original US demand for banning foreign travel by North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un and freezing his assets but froze the assets of three government agencies, including a military one.
The US had wanted a complete ban on oil exports to North Korea, immediate end to employment of an estimated 93,000 of its citizens abroad, forcible boarding of ships trading with that country to check for contraband, and restrictions on Un.
 
US Permanent Representative Nikki Haley, who proposed a virtual blockade of North Korea but agreed to the watered-down version after negotiations with China and Russia, said after the vote that over 90 percent of North Korea’s exports are now banned when combined with earlier sanctions on iron ore, metals, seafood and coal exports.
It will lose $1.3 billion in annual revenues, she added.
 
Haley acknowledged China's influence saying, “Today’s resolution would not have happened without the strong relationship that has developed between President (Donald) Trump and Chinese President Xi (Jinping), and we greatly appreciate both teams working with us.”
 
Both China, the patron of North Korea, and Russia, one of its main trading partners, sought to put pressure on the US to agree to not seek to overthrow the regime of Kim Jong Un or to force a reunion of North and South Koreas.
Representatives of both countries emphasised finding a solution through negotiations and dialogue saying that they were as much a part of the resolutions on North Korea as the sanctions and pushed a proposal made jointly in July for the US and South Korea to stop military exercises in return for North Korea suspending its nuclear programme.
China's Permanent Representative Liu Jieyi said that the US must consider what he called the legitimate concerns of all parties and make it a part of its policy towards the region to not seek regime change in Pyongyang or a collapse of the country or an accelerated pace of reunification of the two Koreas.
 
He also opposed the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THADD) anti-missile system by the US in South Korea asserting that it undermined the security of China and other countries in the region.
 
Russia's Permanent Representative Vassily Alekseevich Nebenzia said that a refusal to include proposals for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to mediate or to disavow regime change “raised serious questions.”

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