The UN Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea on Friday for its Nov. 29 intercontinental ballistic missile test, seeking to limit its access to refined petroleum products and crude oil and its earnings from workers abroad.
A Security Council resolution adopted 15-0 seeks to ban nearly 90 per cent of refined petroleum product 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 abroad within 24 months, instead of 12 months as first proposed, reports Reuters.
The US-drafted resolution also caps crude oil supplies to North Korea at 4 million barrels a year and commits the Council to further reductions if Pyongyang were to conduct another nuclear test or launch another ICBM.
North Korea on Nov. 29 said it successfully tested a new ICBM in a “breakthrough” that puts the US mainland within range of its nuclear weapons whose warheads could withstand re-entry to the Earth’s atmosphere.
Tensions have been rising over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes, which it pursues in defiance of years of UN Security Council resolutions, with bellicose rhetoric coming from both Pyongyang and the White House.
In November, North Korea demanded a halt to what it called “brutal sanctions,” saying a previous round imposed after its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3 constituted genocide.
US diplomats have made clear they are seeking a diplomatic solution but proposed the new, tougher sanctions resolution to ratchet up pressure on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“It sends the unambiguous message to Pyongyang that further defiance will invite further punishments and isolation,” Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said after the vote.
The North Korean mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the vote.
Wu Haitao, China’s deputy UN ambassador, said tensions on the Korean peninsula risk “spiralling out of control” and he repeated Beijing’s call for talks.
“Only by meeting each other halfway and through dialogue and consultations can a peaceful settlement be found,” he said.
North Korea regularly threatens to destroy South Korea, the United States and Japan, and says its weapons programs are necessary to counter US aggression. The United States stations 28,500 troops in the South, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.
On Friday, a spokesperson for North Korea’s foreign ministry called US President Donald Trump’s recently released national security strategy the latest American policy seeking to “stifle our country and turn the entire Korean peninsula” into an outpost of American hegemony.
He said Trump was seeking “total subordination of the whole world”.