China seeks talks after UN imposes new North Korea sanctions
THE UN Security Council voted unanimously on Saturday to impose new sanctions on North Korea, banning exports that supply up to a third of the country’s annual $3 billion (R40bn) earnings.
The US-sponsored resolution was in response to North Korea’s launch of two intercontinental ballistic missiles last month, activities prohibited under existing UN resolutions.
The sanctions ban North Korea’s largest export, coal, along with exports of iron and iron ore, lead and lead ore, and seafood. Together, those exports bring in more than $1bn a year for Pyongyang.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the sanctions should be accompanied by a resumption of the six-party talks to settle the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue by diplomatic and political means, and avoid escalation of tension.
The talks, which involve North and South Korea, the US, China, Russia and Japan, were initiated in Beijing in August 2003, but have been stalled since December 2008. North Korea dropped out of the talks in April 2009.
Wang also expressed the hope that all the parties could accept China’s “double suspension” proposal, which requires North Korea to suspend its missile and nuclear activities in exchange for the suspension of large-scale US-South Korean military drills.
Meeting his North Korean counterpart, Ri Yong-ho, on the sidelines of an Asean foreign ministers’ meetings in the Philippines yesterday, Wang called on Pyongyang, Washington and Seoul to exercise restraint and make the right choices. Ri said his government was willing to maintain communication with China on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.
In New York, US ambassador Nikki Haley told the UN Security Council that its vote showed Pyongyang the world was united in seeking to end its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. But “we should not fool ourselves into thinking we have solved the problem”, she said.
In addition to banning exports, the resolution also prohibits all countries from increasing the number of North Korean workers they employ, prohibits any new joint ventures and commercial agreements with North Korea, and increased investment in existing ventures.
The goal is to prevent North Korea’s access to hard currency, which Haley and other delegates at the council session said were not used for the welfare of the North Korean people. The US had also hoped to ban oil exports and additional banking and commercial penalties, which were opposed by China and Russia.
UN sanctions, which were first imposed in 2006 against North Korea, have not prevented tests of five nuclear warheads and four longrange missile launches since then.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, left, is greeted by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi before their bilateral meeting on the sideline of an Asean foreign ministers’ meeting in the Philippines, yesterday.