UN Expands North Korea Blacklist in First US, China Sanctions Deal under Trump

Manila Bulletin, June 4, 2017 | Go to article overview

UN Expands North Korea Blacklist in First US, China Sanctions Deal under Trump


By Reuters

United Nations - The UN Security Council on Friday expanded targeted sanctions against North Korea after its repeated missile tests, adopting the first such resolution agreed by the United States and Pyongyang's only major ally China since President Donald Trump took office.

The Trump administration has been pressing China aggressively to rein in its reclusive neighbor, warning that all options are on the table if Pyongyang persists with its nuclear and missile development programs.

The United States has struggled to slow those programs, which have become a security priority given Pyongyang's vow to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland.

"The United States will continue to seek a peaceful, diplomatic resolution to this situation," US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the council after the vote.

But she added: "Beyond diplomatic and financial consequences, the United States remains prepared to counteract North Korean aggression through other means, if necessary."

Adding names to the UN blacklist -- a global travel ban and asset freeze -- was the minimum sanctions measures the Security Council could have taken and comes after five weeks of negotiations between Washington and Beijing.

Clear message to N. Korea

"The Security Council is sending a clear message to North Korea today - stop firing ballistic missiles or face the consequences," Haley said.

The resolution, adopted unanimously by the 15-member council, sanctions four entities, including the Koryo Bank and Strategic Rocket Force of the Korean People's Army, and 14 people, including the head of Pyongyang's overseas spying operations.

North Korea's Koryo Bank handles overseas transactions for Office 38, a shadowy body that manages the private slush funds of the North Korean leadership, according to a South Korean government database.

'Critical window'

The measures adopted on Friday could have been agreed by the council's North Korea sanctions committee behind closed doors, but Washington convinced China to back a public vote on the blacklist, amplifying the council's unhappiness with Pyongyang's defiance of a UN ban on ballistic missile launches.

The UN Security Council first imposed sanctions on Pyongyang in 2006 over its ballistic missile and nuclear programs and has ratcheted up the measures in response to five nuclear tests and two long-range missile launches. North Korea is threatening a sixth nuclear test.

"There is a critical window of opportunity for the nuclear issue of the peninsula to come back to the right track of seeking a settlement through dialogue and negotiations," Chinese UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi told the council.

"It is incumbent on all parties concerned to exercise restraint and to do more to help ease the tension and build mutual trust."

He again proposed a simultaneous freeze of North Korea's nuclear and missile programs and South Korea and the United States' joint military exercises. Russia said the suggestion merits "serious consideration."

Haley said: "We want a negotiated solution, but North Korea must fulfill its basic obligations by first stopping all ballistic missile launches and nuclear weapons testing and taking concrete steps toward getting rid of its nuclear weapons program. …

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