UN Security Council to vote on lighter North Korea sanctions

Published: 4:00 AM, September 12, 2017

UNITED NATIONS/SEOUL — The United Nations Security Council is set to vote early today on a watered-down United States-drafted resolution to impose new sanctions on North Korea over its latest nuclear test, diplomats said, but it was unclear whether China and Russia would support it.

This comes as North Korea warned the US that it would pay a “due price” for spearheading efforts for fresh sanctions for this month’s nuclear test, which followed a series of test missile launches, all in defiance of UN sanctions.

The resolution originally called for an oil embargo on the North, a halt to its key exports of textiles and subjecting leader Kim Jong-un to a financial and travel ban have been toned down, apparently to placate Russia and China, which both have veto powers, diplomats said.

The latest draft of the resolution no longer proposes blacklisting Mr Kim and relaxes sanctions earlier proposed on oil and gas, but still proposes a ban on textile exports a draft reviewed by Reuters shows.

North Korea was condemned globally for conducting its sixth nuclear test on Sept 3, which it claimed was of an advanced hydrogen bomb.

The tensions have weighed on global markets, but yesterday there was some relief among investors that North Korea did not conduct another missile test over the weekend when it celebrated its founding anniversary.

Still, North Korea denounced efforts by Washington to impose new UN-backed sanctions against the country. The North’s Foreign Ministry warned Washington that if it did “rig up the illegal and unlawful ‘resolution’ on harsher sanctions, the DPRK shall make absolutely sure that the US pays due price”.

“The forthcoming measures to be taken by the DPRK will cause the US the greatest pain and suffering it had ever gone through in its entire history,” the ministry said, using the abbreviation for North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“The world will witness how the DPRK tames the US gangsters by taking (a) series of action tougher than they have ever envisaged.”

A Security Council resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by permanent members the US, Britain, France, Russia or China to pass.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang stressed the need for consensus and maintaining peace.

“I have said before that China agrees that the UN Security Council should make a further response and necessary actions with respect to North Korea’s sixth nuclear test,” he said.

“We hope Security Council members on the basis of sufficient consultations reach consensus and project a united voice. The response and actions the Security Council makes should be conducive to the denuclearisation of the Peninsula, conducive to safeguarding the peace and stability of the Peninsula, and conducive to push forward the use of peaceful and political means to resolve the Peninsula nuclear issue.”

The latest draft of the resolution reflects the challenge in imposing tough sanctions on the North by curbing its energy supply and singling out its leader for a financial and travel ban, a symbolic measure at best, but one that is certain to rile Pyongyang.

It will also be a disappointment to South Korea, which has sought tough new sanctions that would be harder for Pyongyang to ignore, as it said dialogue remained on the table.

“We have been in consultations that oil has to be part of the final sanctions,” South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said.

“I do believe that whatever makes it into the final text and is adopted by consensus hopefully will have significant consequences on the economic pressure against North Korea.” AGENCIES