UN Security Council steps up sanctions on defiant North Korea

North Korea warns US of ‘greatest pain’ rejects sanctions

North Korea warns US of ‘greatest pain’ rejects sanctions

English edition of Asharq Al-Awsat - the world's premier pan-Arab daily.

With backing from China and Russian Federation, the council adopted a US-drafted sanctions resolution just one month after banning exports of coal, lead and seafood in response to North Korea's launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

This is the first time that the UNSC resolution has included restrictions on oil supplies to the North. Experts analyzed that it would lead to around a 30 percent reduction in total supplies of oil-related products to the North.

The new sanctions follow North Korea's most powerful nuclear test to date which the country had carried out on September 3.

The 15-member council based in NY approved Resolution 2375, which imposes a cap on the supply, sales or transfer of crude oil to North Korea to the level of the past 12 months, some 4 million barrels, and limits exports of refined petroleum products to the country to 2 million barrels a year.

The Security Council also imposed a complete ban on the North's exports of textile products seen as a major source of foreign currency suspected of being diverted to advance its nuclear and missile programs.

And Kim Hyun-Wook of the Korea National Diplomatic Academy, predicted: "The sanctions will only provide North Korea with an excuse for further provocations, such as an ICBM launch".

USA envoy Nikki Haley called them the "strongest measures ever imposed on North Korea" even though they ended up dropping demands for an oil embargo and freeze on Kim's assets.

Conversely, the USA must deal with the bellicose rhetoric from North Korea which routinely threatens to strike the United States.

"We are done trying to prod the regime to do the right thing".

If this is a choice between the survival of his regime, which he appears to believe the nuclear deterrent will secure - North Korean officials often quote the examples of Libya and Iraq as what happens to states that give up their nuclear weapons - and the further suffering of his citizens, it's hard to believe Mr Kim will choose the latter. Haley made clear that no talks or sanctions have worked to halt the regime's nuclear program. But she also held out the prospect of a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

Whether North Korea will take such a step is best left to their conscience but a potential offensive against the world's most powerful military raises a question: Can the U.S. protect itself from such an occurrence? A new arms race now threatens to undermine China's grand plans to ease the USA out of North East Asia and dominate regional security.

It also bans the sale of condensates and natural gas liquids to the North.

How significant is the textiles ban?

The comments Tuesday came as North Korea faced renewed criticism at the Geneva-based body of its recent ballistic missile and nuclear weapons tests.

The U.S. proposed slashing projects employing North Korean workers overseas, but instead accepted sanctions aimed at gradually scaling them back.

A staff member at a Beijing branch of China Construction Bank said they received a notice in May, and North Koreans can no longer conduct transactions.

An edited draft of the document, which the USA diplomatic team at the United Nations wrote, says the worldwide community will still ban sales of North Korean textiles and will limit oil shipped to the pariah country. But China said after Monday's vote it supported the resolution. The U.S. should look to engage diplomatically to find a level of security that North Korea and its neighbors will be happy with, he said. By its sanctions, each time more severe, the United Nations wants to push Pyongyang to negotiate on its nuclear weapons programmes and conventional, that are deemed threatening to the world stability.

Both countries are pushing their own double freeze proposal - where the USA and South Korea suspend joint military exercises on the peninsula, and North Korea freezes its nuclear programme.

The most recent resolution is notable, however, for being weaker than that proposed by Washington, a probable outcome of concessions made to both Beijing and Moscow.

"This will cut deep", U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley declared.

Russia's Permanent Representative Vassily Alekseevich Nebenzia said that a refusal to include proposals for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to mediate or to disavow regime change "raised serious questions".

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