China says hopes for ‘clear’ mes­sage with new N Korea sanc­tions

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

China said yes­ter­day it hoped for a “clear” mes­sage to be sent with new UN sanc­tions on North Korea over its nu­clear pro­gram, but would not com­ment on the draft, say­ing there had been too much spec­u­la­tion about the de­tails.

The Se­cu­rity Coun­cil is set to vote on Wed­nes­day to impose new sanc­tions on North Korea for its fifth and largest nu­clear test, slash­ing Py­ongyang’s ex­port earn­ings by some $800 mil­lion, diplo­mats say. Diplo­mats say the coun­cil’s five veto-wield­ing pow­ers - the United States, China, Bri­tain, Rus­sia and France - have agreed to new mea­sures, seen by Reuters on Fri­day, that largely tar­get the her­mit Asian state’s coal ex­port earn­ings.

In Bei­jing, Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry spokesman Geng Shuang said China sup­ported fur­ther ac­tion against North Korea, but that it should be tar­geted and not harm nor­mal hu­man­i­tar­ian, civil­ian or de­vel­op­ment needs. “At present the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil mem­bers are hav­ing con­sul­ta­tions on the draft,” Geng told a daily news brief­ing.

“We hope Se­cu­rity Coun­cil mem­bers can reach con­sen­sus on the draft as soon as pos­si­ble, to send a clear and united mes­sage.”

North Korea has been un­der UN sanc­tions since 2006 over its nu­clear and mis­sile tests. It con­ducted its lat­est nu­clear test on Sept. 9, and the United States and China, North Korea’s most im­por­tant diplo­matic and eco­nomic backer, spent more than two months ne­go­ti­at­ing new sanc­tions.

China is be­lieved to be the only coun­try that now buys North Korean coal and un­der the US-drafted UN res­o­lu­tion like- ly to be adopted it would cut its im­ports by some 60 per­cent, or $700 mil­lion on 2015 sales, diplo­mats said.

The new sanc­tions would cap North Korean coal ex­ports at $400.9 mil­lion, or 7.5 mil­lion met­ric tons, an­nu­ally, which­ever is lower, start­ing on Jan. 1. Over the first 10 months of this year, China im­ported 18.6 mil­lion tons of coal from North Korea, up al­most 13 per­cent from a year ago.

Coal is one of North Korea’s only sources of hard cur­rency and its largest sin­gle ex­port item. The draft UN res­o­lu­tion would also ban ex­ports of cop­per, nickel, sil­ver and zinc, which the US of­fi­cial said are worth about $100 mil­lion a year.

Asked about the de­tails of the new sanc­tions, Geng said there had been a lot of spec­u­la­tive re­ports around ahead of the res­o­lu­tion being passed. “So it’s not ap­pro­pri­ate to com­ment on con­jec­ture and sup­po­si­tion.”

China has al­ways been con­sci­en­tious about en­forc­ing UN res­o­lu­tions, and all coun­tries have an obli­ga­tion to do so, he added.—Reuters

TAIP­ING IS­LAND: Tai­wanese Coast Guard carry a mock vic­tim dur­ing a search-an­dres­cue ex­er­cise in the South China Sea yes­ter­day.—AP

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