It can be considered that a strong sense of crisis and solidarity has been demonstrated in the international community with regard to the growing threat of North Korea’s nuclear and missile development. New sanctions have to be implemented thoroughly.
The U.N. Security Council has unanimously adopted an additional sanctions resolution on North Korea, which recently perpetrated another nuclear test. China and Russia, which have been negative about increasing pressure on the country, also approved it.
The council showed unusual speed in coming to a conclusion on a sanctions resolution in just over a week following the nuclear test. Immediately after the test, the United States worked out a draft resolution that contained stringent sanctions, even announcing the date of the council’s vote on the resolution. The method of the United States pressing hard for concessions with its self-assured stance, without comparing and adjusting views with China in advance, may have proved effective.
To be noted is that, for the first time, the resolution goes so far as to restrict oil exports to North Korea. Crude oil to be shipped to the country is capped at the level of the exports made in the past year. A ceiling has been placed on the exports of refined oil products, including gasoline, to the country. When combined, these measures are expected to reduce total oil shipments to the country by 30 percent from the current level.
The United States, in its draft resolution, initially called for totally banning exports of crude oil and refined oil products to North Korea, but later stepped back from the total ban, apparently in consideration of China and Russia. Nonetheless, it is significant to have built a foothold toward the council’s imposing tougher oil-related sanctions, in the event that North Korea continues its military provocations.
Turn off currency flow
North Korea’s export of textile products, one of the country’s few means of earning foreign currency, has also been banned across the board. When combined with the ban on coal, iron ore and seafood exports from the country, which have already become subject to the sanctions, North Korea is estimated to lose 90 percent of its legal export earnings.
Regarding North Korean laborers working abroad to earn foreign currency, the new resolution bars countries from issuing new work permits or renewing existing ones.
The series of measures, when carried out stringently, will make it difficult for North Korea to procure funds for its nuclear and missile development and to secure fuel, likely to serve as a blow to the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said it is important to make North Korea change its [nuclear and missile development] policy by boosting pressure on the country to an unprecedented level. Countries concerned must close a loophole in the sanctions system, thus tightening the net encircling North Korea.
Mexico and Peru have asked the North Korean ambassadors to their countries to leave. The Philippines announced a policy of suspending trade with North Korea. It is commendable that the message warning that North Korea’s outrageous acts, including nuclear tests, will make the country isolated from the international community, has been given concrete form.
The responsibility of China, North Korea’s biggest supporter, has become ever more grave.
It is problematic that China has stopped publishing statistics related to its crude oil supply to North Korea via its pipeline in recent years. In order to enhance the effectiveness of sanctions, it is considered essential to work on making bilateral trade between China and North Korea transparent.
North Korea has warned that in case the Security Council adopts an additional sanctions resolution against the country, it shall make sure that “the United States pays due price.” Precautions need to be taken against North Korean actions such as firing an additional ballistic missile.