United Nations imposes new sanctions on North Korea

The fifth conference of cell chairpersons of North Korea's Workers&apos Party is under way in Pyongyang on Dec. 21 2017

The UN resolution seeks to ban almost 90 percent of refined petroleum exports to North Korea by capping them at 500,000 barrels a year and, in a last-minute change, demands the repatriation of North Koreans working overseas within 24 months, instead of 12 months as first proposed.

The resolution would require for the first time that all nations declare the total amount of refined products shipped to North Korea.

"It sends the unambiguous message to Pyongyang that further defiance will invite further punishment and isolation", Ambassador Nikki Haley said after the vote. "The case of North Korea is getting more serious with each passing day".

North Koreans in South Phyongan in a December 3 image released by state media.

North Korea uses refined oil products for taxis, generators and local heating, according to William Brown, an economist at Georgetown University who studies North Korea.

Tensions have escalated this year between the United States and North Korea over Pyongyang's continued development of nuclear and ballistic weapons, with exchanges of bellicose rhetoric that have sparked fears about the risk of war.

But there are other acts of war possible, and some in the USA seem to be advocating a naval blockade of the whole of North Korea, figuring that would be one way to ensure that there's literally no trade possible.

"The US proposal to cut off oil supplies and [be allowed to] board North Korean ships on the high seas could have pushed Pyongyang into a corner [and] threatened the livelihoods of its people and the stability of the country and Northeast Asia", he said.


Beijing's vote for the tougher sanctions indicates that its direct influence with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is waning and that China is recognising the global dangers from North Korea's nuclear and missile arsenals. That North Korea also has direct links to both China and Russian Federation, their main trading partners, also limits what a blockade could really do, beyond being a declaration of war.

In the document, announced on Monday, Mr Trump said Washington had to deal with the challenge posed by North Korea's weapons programmes.

The move to curb Chinese fuel exports to North Korea may have limited impact after China National Petroleum Corp CNPET.UL suspended diesel and gasoline sales to its northern neighbor in June over concerns it would not get paid.

The ministry said the sanctions are tantamount to a "complete economic blockade" of North Korea.

To be prohibited similarly are exports to North Korea of industrial equipment, machinery, transportation vehicles and industrial metals.

In a bid to further choke North Korea's external sources of funding, the resolution also seeks to ban North Korean exports of food products, machinery, electrical equipment, earth and stone, wood and vessels.

Others, however, were less confident that the latest United Nations sanctions would be any more effective than earlier ones in curbing Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions, or reducing the likelihood of military conflict.

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