U.N. im­poses tough sanc­tions on North Korea

Se­cu­rity Coun­cil penal­ties are ex­pected to cut na­tion’s an­nual ex­ports by $1 bil­lion.

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Bar­bara Demick bar­bara.demick @la­times.com

NEW YORK — The U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil on Satur­day unan­i­mously ap­proved a sanc­tions res­o­lu­tion that the United States said was the strictest im­posed “on any coun­try in a gen­er­a­tion,” ban­ning North Korea from ex­port­ing many of its most lu­cra­tive prod­ucts, rang­ing from coal to iron ore to seafood and even some of its art­work.

The tough new sanc­tions would slice $1 bil­lion from North Korea’s to­tal an­nual ex­ports of $3 bil­lion, the State De­part­ment said.

“This res­o­lu­tion is the sin­gle largest eco­nomic sanc­tions pack­age ever lev­eled against the North Korean regime,” said United Nations Am­bas­sador Nikki Ha­ley. “This is the most strin­gent set of sanc­tions on any coun­try in a gen­er­a­tion.”

The U.S.-drafted res­o­lu­tion has been in the works since July 4, when North Korea tested an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile ca­pa­ble of reach­ing Alaska. That was fol­lowed up by an­other test July 28, which helped the U.S. per­suade China and Rus­sia, North Korea’s tra­di­tional al­lies, to over­come their op­po­si­tion to the res­o­lu­tion.

Pres­i­dent Trump, who has been strug­gling on how to re­spond to North Korea’s re­cent ac­tions, sig­naled his ap­proval on Twit­ter. “The United Nations Se­cu­rity Coun­cil just voted 15-0 to sanc­tion North Korea. China and Rus­sia voted with us. Very big fi­nan­cial im­pact!”

If en­forced, the big­gest fi­nan­cial hit of the res­o­lu­tion will be the ban on coal, which brings in more than $400 mil­lion in rev­enue for Kim Jong Un’s gov­ern­ment. The ban on the ex­port of seafood, prized in Asia be­cause of the rel­a­tively clean North Korean waters, will trim $300 mil­lion from the coun­try’s ex­ports, ac­cord­ing to the State De­part­ment.

The res­o­lu­tion also sets a cap on the num­ber of North Korean guest work­ers abroad, a fig­ure es­ti­mated to be at least 50,000. And the res­o­lu­tion freezes the as­sets of the Man­su­dae Art Stu­dio, which has been build­ing Soviet-style stat­ues and mon­u­ments for dic­ta­to­rial gov­ern­ments around the world, mostly in Africa.

An­other key mea­sure is that the res­o­lu­tion slapped an as­set freeze on the For­eign Trade Bank, North Korea’s pri­mary bank for for­eign cur­rency ex­change.

The res­o­lu­tion will also al­low the U.N. to ban spe­cific ves­sels that are break­ing sanc­tions from en­ter­ing ports all over the world.

This is the eighth time since 2006 that the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil has adopted a res­o­lu­tion in re­sponse to North Korea’s nu­clear and mis­sile tests. Frus­trated North Korea an­a­lysts were du­bi­ous that this lat­est mea­sure would halt Py­ongyang’s rush to­ward de­vel­op­ing a work­able nu­clear war­head.

Ob­jec­tions by China and Rus­sia led the res­o­lu­tion drafters to re­move a clause that would have barred im­ports of fuel oil to North Korea. And more im­por­tant, the res­o­lu­tion didn’t im­pose sanc­tions on the Chi­nese com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als who have helped North Korea evade sanc­tions.

“While the re­stric­tions seem tough on the sur­face, they rely on the Chi­nese and Rus­sians to en­force them,’’ said An­thony Rug­giero, an an­a­lyst for the Foun­da­tion for De­fense of Democ­ra­cies. He said the res­o­lu­tion might ac­tu­ally be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive in that it will al­low China and Rus­sia to claim they are co­op­er­at­ing in ef­forts to rein in North Korea.

“The U.S. gov­ern­ment had been mov­ing to­wards sanc­tion­ing Chi­nese com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als, but they have backed away from that,” said Rug­giero. “I fear peo­ple in the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion will now say, ‘Well, we can’t do any­thing more be­cause we have to give the Chi­nese the chance to im­ple­ment the new res­o­lu­tion.’”

Even so, Trump sin­gled out China and Rus­sia for praise. Though he’s been at odds with the two coun­tries on var­i­ous is­sues, on Satur­day night the White House re­leased a state­ment say­ing that he “ap­pre­ci­ates China and Rus­sia’s co­op­er­a­tion in se­cur­ing pas­sage of the res­o­lu­tion.”

Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son said Tues­day be­fore leav­ing for a trip to Asia that the U.S. isn’t try­ing to over­throw Kim, but hopes sanc­tions will serve as “peace­ful pres­sure” to bring his gov­ern­ment to ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Kim, one of the youngest world lead­ers, took over with the death of his fa­ther, Kim Jong Il, in 2011, and has since ac­cel­er­ated the pace of mis­sile and nu­clear tests. In its of­fi­cial state­ments, North Korea has said it needs nu­clear weapons to pre­vent Kim from be­ing over­thrown by the West in the man­ner of Iraq’s Sad­dam Hus­sein and Libya’s Moam­mar Kadafi.

By Sun­day in Py­ongyang, the North Korean gov­ern­ment had not re­sponded to the U.N.’s ac­tion.

But a week ear­lier, the gov­ern­ment of­fered a damn­ing com­ment af­ter Trump signed a bill that im­posed sanc­tions on North Korea, Iran and Rus­sia. The Korean Cen­tral News Agency quoted an un­named of­fi­cial with the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs who said, “The act of the U.S., which is so fond of rig­ging up sanc­tions law and bran­dish­ing the sanc­tions club against other sov­er­eign states, is no bet­ter than a hooli­gan which can­not be al­lowed by in­ter­na­tional law as well.”

Ed Jones AFP/Getty Im­ages

WORK­ERS at the Chol­lima Steel Com­plex out­side Py­ongyang, the North Korean cap­i­tal. The sanc­tions will hurt the vi­tal steel in­dus­try.

Justin Lane Euro­pean Pressphoto Agency

U.S. AM­BAS­SADOR Nikki Ha­ley con­fers with Chi­nese coun­ter­part Liu Jieyi be­fore the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil unan­i­mously ap­proved the sanc­tions pack­age.

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