US calls proposed sanctions on N. Korea a ‘major upgrade’

February 25, 2016

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Yonhap) — A proposed package of new U.N. sanctions would require mandatory inspection of all cargo going in and out of North Korea and ban its exports of mineral resources, a key source of hard currency for Pyongyang, a U.S. envoy said Thursday.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power unveiled the unprecedented measures as she outlined key points of the draft U.N. Security Council resolution expanding sanctions on North Korea for conducting nuclear and missile tests in violation of U.N. bans.

The U.S. and China reached a final agreement on the draft Wednesday after more than a month of negotiations.

“The United States tabled a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that, if adopted, would break new ground and represent the strongest set of sanctions imposed by the Security Council in more than two decades,” Power told reporters.

“For the first time in history, all cargo going in and out of the DPRK would be subjected to mandatory inspection. For the first time, all small arms and other conventional weapons would be prohibited from being sold to the DPRK,” she said.

In addition, the resolution would impose financial sanctions targeting North Korean banks and assets, ban aviation and rocket fuel supplies to the North, and ban the North’s exports of coal, iron, gold, titanium and rare earth minerals, she said.

The proposed sanctions would also ground North Korean flights suspected of carrying contraband, and suspicious vessels carrying illicit items would be denied access to ports, Power said.

“These sanctions, if adopted, would send an unambiguous and unyielding message to the DPRK’s regime the world will not accept your proliferation. There will be consequences for your actions and we will work relentlessly and collectively to stop your nuclear program,” Power told reporters.

“If adopted and implemented fully, these sanctions would constitute a major increase in pressure compared to the council’s previous actions on the DPRK. They have a broader scope and target more of the DPRK’s pressure points,” she said.

According to media reports, the draft resolution also calls for blacklisting 17 North Korean individuals and 12 entities, requiring states to expel North Korean diplomats involved in illicit activities and ban the North’s imports of luxury items.

Power spoke after she formally presented the draft resolution at a Security Council meeting. Unless objections are raised after a review by the council members, the council can formally adopt it, possibly as early as Friday and by Monday at the latest.

Power said that the new sanctions would make it much harder for the North to raise the funds, import the technology, and acquire the know-how to advance its illicit nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

“The DPRK has taken progressive steps toward its declared goal of developing nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles,” she said. “The international community cannot allow the DPRK regime to achieve that goal. The United States will not allow this to happen.”

She also made it clear, however, that the sanctions are not aimed at the North Korean people.

“The North Korean people have suffered so much already under one of the most brutal regimes the world has ever known. Rather, the resolution focuses on a ruling elite that have inflicted so much of that suffering, always privileging the nuclear and ballistic missile programs over the welfare of the North Korean people,” she said.

Power also said the U.S. and its partners will continue to pursue “rigorous and unyielding sanctions” as long as the North pursues nuclear weapons.

“We have seen how robust sanctions can alter a government’s dangerous nuclear ambitions,” she said. “The time to use this tool with the DPRK is now and we look forward to working with the council to put in place comprehensive, robust and unprecedented sanctions against the DPRK regime.”

After the North’s Jan. 6 nuclear test, the Security Council pledged to adopt significant sanctions but has not been able to do so because China balked at imposing harsh measures on Pyongyang.

Amid the deadlock, the North flouted the Security Council again with a banned missile launch on Feb. 7.

Beijing has condemned the North’s nuclear and missile tests but has been lukewarm about calls for a stern response. Analysts have long said Beijing fears that pushing Pyongyang too hard could lead to its collapse, instability on its border and the ultimate emergence of a pro-U.S. nation.


*This article has been updated.