UNSC imposes new sanctions on N. Korea, cuts off most fuel

North Korean supreme leader, Kim Jong-un (File Photo)

United Nations, Dec 23 (By Arul Louis/IANS) The Security Council tightened the economic chokehold on North Korea by unanimously voting on Friday to impose the strictest sanctions on North Korea aiming to cut off most fuel supplies and ban major exports and imports following its intercontinental missile test last month.

The resolution introduced by the United States after intense lobbying won the support of China, which has had a special relationship with North Korea, and has in the past opposed stringent sanctions.

The newly voted round of restrictions further tighten the sanctions imposed last month, which were softened to gain the support of Moscow and Beijing.

Beijing’s vote for the tougher sanctions indicate that its direct influence with Pyongyang is waning and that it is recognising the global dangers from North Korea’s nuclear and missile arsenals.

The resolution would reduce North Korea’s refined petroleum imports by 90 percent from the 2017 mid-year level to 500,000 barrels per year, and authorises the Council to further reduce petroleum imports if it carried out any missile or nuclear tests.

All North Korean exports and most imports in addition to oil are also banned under the resolution. It also requires the expulsion by the end of 2019 of all North Korean expatriate workers who are estimated to earn the government $500 million each year.

The resolution also requires all nations to seize ships smuggling goods to North Korea.

(Arul Louis can be reached at arul.l@ians.in)