On Saturday, the United Nations Security Council is set to vote on a US drafted resolution which seeks to slash a third of North Korea’s $3 billion annual export revenue because of Pyongyang’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests last month. The proposed resolution will hope to significantly increase economic pressure on North Korea; returning to negotiations on its nuclear and missile programs.
The draft resolution condemns the country’s recent launches “in the strongest terms,” reiterating previous calls for North Korea to suspend all future ballistic missile launches and to abandon its nuclear programs and research “in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner.”
The resolution would ban North Korean mineral and seafood exports, which bring in over $1 billion in revenue a year; ban countries from giving any additional permits to North Korean laborers, another source of revenue for the North Korean regime which its neighbors, such as Russia, usually take advantage of because of its cheap source of labor; ban all new joint ventures with North Korean companies, and any new foreign investment from existing joint ventures.
North Korea has been estimated to earn in 2017 $400 million from coal, $251 million from iron and iron ore, $113 million from lead and lead ore and $295 million from seafood. In 2015 a United Nations human rights investigator more than 50,000 people have been forced to work abroad by the North Korean regime, mainly in Russia and China; earning between $1.2 billion and $2.3 billion a year for the North Korean government.
“These are export sectors where this money is viewed as a critical, critical source of hard currency that the North immediately turns around into its fantastically expensive war machine and these just amazingly expensive ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs,” a council diplomat, speaking with anonymity told Reuters. The diplomat also added that the sanctions do not aim to target the North Korean people.
The draft resolution also looks to add nine individuals and four entities to the UN blacklist. This includes North Korea’s primary foreign exchange bank, and would subject them to a global asset freeze and travel ban.
The proposed new sanctions come after North Korea successfully tested the launch capabilities of an ICBM, which would be able to reach the United States. The Security Council has already imposed numerous rounds of sanctions, failing to deter or halt North Korea’s goal to improve its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons capabilities.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said the US wants to eventually hold talks with North Korea, but doesn’t believe discussions would be productive if the North Koreans come with the intention of maintaining its nuclear weapons. In the past, the North Korea’s regime has repeatedly said it will never give up its nuclear arsenal, which they argue serves as a guarantee towards their security. On Wednesday Tillerson made comments that were attempts to reassure the North that the United States is not seeking a regime change, or even an accelerated reunification between the North and South.
“We are not your enemy … but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us, and we have to respond…And we hope that at some point they will begin to understand that and we would like to sit and have a dialogue with them,” Tillerson said earlier this week.
The draft resolution was circulated to the 15 Security Council members on Friday. A resolution requires nine votes in favor, and no vetoes by the United States, China, Russia, France or Britain, in order to be adopted. It’s been reported that there is high confidence China and Russia will support the resolution, not choosing to use their veto power. The United States is said to have spent weeks negotiating the text with China, who is North Korea’s neighbor and ally. Moscow, in the past, has disagreed with Western assessments that North Korea launched two long range missiles, saying they were mid-range.
The vote on the draft resolution has been scheduled at 3 pm EDT on Saturday.
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