20 May 2019
The UN draft resolution would subject North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (right) to an asset freeze and travel ban. Photo: Reuters
The UN draft resolution would subject North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (right) to an asset freeze and travel ban. Photo: Reuters

US seeks oil embargo on North Korea, textile export ban

The United States wants the United Nations Security Council to impose an oil embargo on North Korea, ban the country’s exports of textiles and the hiring of North Korean laborers abroad, and subject leader Kim Jong Un to an asset freeze and travel ban, Reuters reports, citing a draft resolution Wednesday.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has said she wants the 15-member council to vote on Monday on the draft resolution to impose new sanctions over North Korea’s sixth and largest nuclear test. However, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia has said a Monday vote may be “a little premature”.

It was not immediately clear if the draft resolution had the support of North Korean ally China. Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted on Wednesday that resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis was impossible with sanctions and pressure alone.

A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the United States, Britain, France, Russia or China to be adopted.

Since 2006, the Security Council has unanimously adopted eight resolutions ratcheting up sanctions on North Korea over its ballistic missile and nuclear programs. Haley said the incremental approach had not worked and a diplomatic solution could only be reached by imposing the strongest sanctions.

The new draft UN resolution would ban exports to North Korea of crude oil, condensate, refined petroleum products, and natural gas liquids.

China supplies most of North Korea’s crude. According to South Korean data, Beijing supplies roughly 500,000 tons of crude oil annually. It also exports 200,000 tons of oil products, according to UN data. Russia’s exports of crude oil to North Korea are about 40,000 tons a year.

The Security Council last month imposed new sanctions over North Korea’s two long-range missile launches in July. The Aug. 5 resolution aimed to slash by a third Pyongyang’s US$3 billion annual export revenue by banning coal, iron, lead and seafood.

The new draft resolution would remove an exception for transshipments of Russian coal via the North Korean port of Rajin. In 2013 Russia reopened a railway link with North Korea, from the Russian eastern border town of Khasan to Rajin, to export coal and import goods from South Korea and elsewhere.

The Aug. 5 resolution capped the number of North Koreans working abroad at the current level. The new draft resolution would impose a complete ban on the hiring and payment of North Korean laborers abroad.

Some diplomats estimate that between 60,000 and 100,000 North Koreans work abroad. A U.N. human rights investigator said in 2015 that North Korea was forcing more than 50,000 people to work abroad, mainly in Russia and China, earning between $1.2 billion and $2.3 billion a year.

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