UN to vote on new N.Korea sanctions targeting oil

By AFP/Carole Landry   December 22, 2017 | 12:42 am PT
UN to vote on new N.Korea sanctions targeting oil
Japan Ground Self-Defense Force troops Abseiling from helicopters during an annual live-fire exercise at the Higashi-Fuji firing range in Gotemba, at the foot of Mount Fuji in Shizuoka prefecture. Japan's defence budget will swell to a record 46 billion USD for the next fiscal year, the government said on December 22, 2017, as the nation shores up its missile shield against the threat posed by North Korea. Photo by AFP/Toshifumi Kitamura
The measure would ban the supply of nearly 90 percent of refined oil products to North Korea 

The UN Security Council will vote Friday on a U.S.-drafted resolution ramping up sanctions on North Korea by restricting oil supplies vital for Pyongyang's missile and nuclear programs.

The United States presented the draft resolution Thursday following negotiations with China, Pyongyang's ally, on new punitive measures in response to North Korea's test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on November 28.

It would be the third raft of sanctions imposed on North Korea this year and comes as the United States and North Korea are showing no signs they are willing to engage in talks to end the crisis on the Korean peninsula.

Diplomats said they expected the measure to be adopted during the meeting scheduled for 1:00 pm (1800 GMT).

Japan's Ambassador Koro Bessho, who holds the council presidency, said Japan supports the draft resolution "wholeheartedly" and voiced hope that there will be unanimous support.

Building on previous resolutions, the new draft tightens restrictions on crude and refined oil deliveries to North Korea, most of which are supplied by China.

The measure would ban the supply of nearly 90 percent of refined oil products to North Korea and order the repatriation of all North Korean nationals working abroad within 12 months, according to the text obtained by AFP.

U.S. President Donald Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping last month to cut off oil to North Korea, a move that would deal a crippling blow to its desperately struggling economy.

Tens of thousands of North Koreans have been sent to Russia and China to earn hard currency for Pyongyang, working in what UN rights officials have described as "slave-like conditions."

The draft resolution would cap crude oil supplies to four million barrels per year and deliveries of refined petroleum products including diesel and kerosene would be capped at 500,000 barrels for next year.

Countries would be required to notify the United Nations of their oil shipments to North Korea.

Since September last year, North Korea has carried out a nuclear test -- its sixth -- and a series of advanced missile launches which are banned under UN resolutions.

Seizing ships 

The measure would expand a list of banned exports from North Korea to include food products, machinery, electrical equipment, earth and stone including magnetite and magnesia, wood and vessels.

All countries would be authorized to seize, inspect, freeze and impound ships suspected of carrying illegal cargo to and from North Korea, according to the draft.

A total of 19 North Korean officials, most of whom work in banking, would be added to the UN sanctions blacklist along with the North Korean ministry of the people's armed forces, which manages logistics for the army.

They will be subjected to a global visa ban and assets freeze.

The United States has led the drive at the Security Council to tighten sanctions aimed at piling pressuring Kim Jong-Un's regime to come to the negotiating table.

Last week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the council that the "pressure campaign must and will continue until denuclearization is achieved" as he backtracked from his offer to hold unconditional talks with Pyongyang.

French Ambassador Francois Delattre said the new sanctions would pile pressure on Pyongyang "not for the sake of pressure, but in order to push for a dialogue and to have better leverage for the negotiations and the political solution we need."

In negotiations on previous sanctions, the United States has first agreed with China on provisions of each resolution before presenting the text to the full 15-member council, which has then quickly adopted it.

So far, the Security Council has imposed a ban on supplies of condensates and natural gas liquids to North Korea, capped deliveries of refined oil products to two million barrels a year, and capped crude oil exports at current levels.

The council has also banned exports of North Korean coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, restricted joint ventures and ended the hiring of North Korean workers abroad.

The United States separately asked the council to blacklist 10 ships, including two Hong Kong-flagged vessels, for carrying banned cargo from North Korea.

China however raised objections at those sanctions and the request to ban the 10 ships from ports worldwide will again be considered on December 28.

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