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September 19, 2017

UN OKS sanctions against NKorea

By EDITH M. LEDERER The Associated Press
This article was published September 12, 2017 at 4:00 a.m.

UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. Security Council on Monday unanimously approved new sanctions on North Korea but not the toughest-ever measures sought by the Trump administration to ban all oil imports and freeze international assets of the government and its leader, Kim Jong Un.

The resolution, responding to Pyongyang's sixth and strongest nuclear test explosion on Sept. 3, does ban North Korea from importing all natural gas liquids and condensates. It also bans all textile exports and prohibits any country from authorizing new work permits for North Korean workers -- two key sources of hard currency for the northeast Asian nation.

As for energy, it caps Pyongyang's imports of crude oil at the level of the last 12 months, and it limits the import of refined petroleum products to 2 million barrels a year.

The watered-down resolution does not include sanctions that the U.S. wanted on North Korea's national airline and the army.

Nonetheless, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told the council after the vote that "these are by far the strongest measures ever imposed on North Korea." But she stressed that "these steps only work if all nations implement them completely and aggressively."

Haley noted that the council was meeting on the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack. In a clear message to North Korean threats to attack the U.S., she said: "We will never forget the lesson that those who have evil intentions must be confronted."

The final agreement was reached after negotiations between the U.S. and China, the North's ally and major trading partner. But its provisions are a significant climb-down from the very tough sanctions the Trump administration proposed last Tuesday, especially on oil, where a complete ban could have crippled North Korea's economy.

The cap on the import of petroleum products could have an impact, but North Korea will still be able to import the same amount of crude oil that is has this year.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, China supplies most of North Korea's crude oil imports, which a U.S. official put at 4 million barrels a year. The agency cited U.N. customs data showing that China reported sending 6,000 barrels a day of oil products to North Korea, which it said is mostly gasoline and diesel fuel vital to the country's agriculture, transportation and military sectors.

That would mean North Korea imports nearly 2.2 million barrels a year in petroleum products, so the 2 million barrel cap in the resolution would represent a 10 percent cut. But the U.S. official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said North Korea now receives about 4.5 million barrels of refined petroleum products, which would mean a more than 50 percent cut.

The textile ban is significant. Textiles are North Korea's main source of export revenue after coal, iron, seafood and other minerals that have already been severely restricted by previous U.N. resolutions. North Korean textile exports in 2016 totaled $752.5 million, accounting for about one-fourth of its total $3 billion in merchandise exports, according to South Korean government figures.

Haley said the Trump administration believes the new sanctions combined with previous measures would ban over 90 percent of North Korea's exports reported in 2016.

As for North Koreans working overseas, the U.S. Mission said a cutoff on new work permits will eventually cost North Korea about $500 million a year once current work permits expire. The U.S. estimates about 93,000 North Koreans are currently working abroad, the U.S. official said.

International on 09/12/2017
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