UN vote to slash North Korea exports

  • 05/08/2017
missile north korea
The resolution would ban North Korea's exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood. Photo credit: Reuters

The United Nations Security Council will vote on a US-drafted resolution that aims to slash by a third North Korea's NZ$4b annual export revenue, over Pyongyang's two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July.

A council diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was "high confidence" that North Korea allies China and Russia would support the draft resolution, which was circulated to the 15 Security Council members on Saturday (NZT).

The council is due to vote at 3pm on Sunday. A resolution needs nine votes in favour, and no vetoes by the United States, China, Russia, France or Britain, to be adopted.

The draft resolution would ban North Korea's exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood.

It would also prohibit countries from increasing the current numbers of North Korean labourers working abroad, ban new joint ventures with North Korea and any new investment in current joint ventures.

"These are export sectors where this money is viewed as a critical source of hard currency that the North immediately turns around into its fantastically expensive war machine, and these amazingly expensive ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs," the diplomat said.

"These sanctions are not targeted at the people of North Korea," the diplomat said.

The draft resolution would also add nine individuals and four entities to the UN blacklist, including North Korea's primary foreign exchange bank, subjecting them to a global asset freeze and travel ban.

The United States and China have been negotiating the draft text for the past month. Typically, they agree on sanctions on North Korea before formally involving other council members.

US President Donald Trump's administration has been frustrated that China has not done more to rein in North Korea, and Washington has threatened to impose new sanctions on Chinese firms doing business with Pyongyang.

North Korea has been under UN sanctions since 2006 over its ballistic missile and nuclear programs, and the Security Council has ratcheted up the measures in response to five nuclear weapons tests and two long-range missile launches.

The UN diplomat said North Korea was estimated to have earned $539m from coal in 2017, $338m from iron and iron ore, $152m from lead and lead ore and $397m from seafood.