US pushes for economic pressure on North Korea
EU will support an UN Security Council resolution for oil embargo, adds its own sanctions
8 September, 2017
United Nations US Ambassador Nikki Haley addresses a Security Council meeting on North Korea, 4 September.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in talk about North Korea tension in Vladivostok, 7 September.
US military vehicles move toward a place where the US missile defence system has been installed to cope with North Korean threats.
World powers continued last week to express contradictory ideas on how to punish the North Korean rogue regime for its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Pyongyang claimed it conducted its sixth nuclear test on 3 September, detonating a thermonuclear weapon it said could be placed on a missile capable of reaching the US mainland.
The United Nations' Security Council has to unveil next week a new package of sanctions against North Korea as a way of forcing it to the negotiating table, news wires reported. According to a draft resolution seen by Reuters, the US wants the UN Security Council to impose an oil embargo on North Korea, ban the country’s exports of textiles and the hiring of North Korean workers abroad, and subject leader Kim Jong Un to an asset freeze and travel ban. The US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has said she wants all Security Council 15 members to vote for new sanctions over North Korea’s largest nuclear test. But meeting South Korean President Moon Jae In on the sidelines of an economic summit in Vladivostok on 6 September, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed opposition for the ban of oil supplies to North Korea. He said that it would cause damage to people in hospitals or other ordinary citizens." Earlier Putin has said that North Koreans would in all likelihood rather "eat grass" than abandon their nuclear program.
North Korea is already subject to sanctions that prevent it from exporting some commodities, such as iron ore. Its access to international banks is also restricted.
A UN resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by the US, Britain, France, Russia or China to pass. It is very unlikely that North Korean ally China will support an oil embargo. China has put forth a “freeze-for-freeze” proposal that would suspend large-scale US military exercises with South Korea in return for a suspension of North Korean nuclear and missile tests. Washington continues to reject that idea.
Most experts say it no longer is realistic to think North Korea will trade away its nuclear arsenal in exchange for sanctions relief, economic support, or a peace treaty with the US ending the formal state of war that has existed since the 1950-53 Korean War. Robert Einhorn, a former senior US non-proliferation specialist now at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington, told Reuters that North Korea has learned from the US invasion of Iraq and the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s decision to stop developing weapons of mass destruction “that you can’t give up critical assets that you need for your own survival.”
Before meeting the EU defence and foreign ministers in the Estonian capital Tallinn last Thursday, the ЕU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said she would propose to ministers to strengthen the economic pressure on North Korea by supporting the new UN Security Council resolution and by starting new autonomous EU sanctions.