UN Security Council imposes tough new sanctions on North Korea

International News

A proposed new United Nations sanctions resolution would significantly increase economic pressure on North Korea to return to negotiations on its nuclear and missile programs by banning mineral and seafood exports worth over $1 billion - a third of its total exports past year, a Security Council diplomat said Friday.

The Foreign Ministry said on Sunday in a statement that the UNSC Resolution 2371 includes a ban on all exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood, and prohibits additional permits for North Korean workers overseas, which were excluded in the previous resolution.

The U.S. -drafted measure, negotiated with North Korea's neighbor and ally China, is aimed at increasing economic pressure on Pyongyang to return to negotiations on its nuclear and missile programs. Following its second test on July 28, the US reached a deal on the sanctions with China, the North's top trading partner and ally.

The sanctions, brought in response to Pyongyang's two most recent intercontinental ballistic missile tests, aim to hit the country's exports and hard currency by stepping up existing restrictions on coal, iron and iron ore exports to a full ban, as well as prohibiting exports of lead, lead ore, and seafood.

The export ban alone could cost North Korea upwards of one billion dollars, which equates to about a third of their total exports, and CNN reported United States Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley called it a "gut punch" to the country. In the previous resolutions against Pyongyang adopted a year ago, the council set export caps on coal, the country's main trade item.

The resolution represents "the strongest sanctions ever imposed in response to a ballistic missile test", the statement said.

North Korea has repeatedly said it will never give up its nuclear arsenal, which it sees as a guarantee of its security.

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"I think the administration has said and will continue to say that North Korea has acted recklessly, irresponsibly, and it has to stop", Haley said.

Moreover, it subjects nine North Korean individuals and four entities to asset freezes and travel bans.

North Korea has already faced a decade's worth of ever-increasing sanctions backed by the US and its allies.

China, as a permanent member of the UNSC, upheld an impartial and objective position and played a responsible and constructive role in the process of the adoption of the resolution, he said.

"These sanctions will cut deep, and in doing so will give the North Korean leadership a taste of the deprivations they have chosen to inflict on the North Korean people", Haley said.

A Security Council diplomat, who was not authorised to speak publicly and insisted on anonymity, called the newly sanctioned Foreign Trade Bank "a very critical clearing house for foreign exchange". "It was not a good day for North Korea".

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, President Trump's national security adviser, said in an interview Saturday on MSNBC that a military option was still under consideration for dealing with the North Korean threat, but that the United States and its allies wanted first to exhaust all other options to resolve the standoff with Pyongyang peacefully.

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