• Kyodo, Reuters


The United Nations Security Council is expected to place a cap on North Korea’s coal exports in new sanctions following the reclusive country’s fifth and largest nuclear test in September, according to a draft resolution obtained Friday by Kyodo News.

The United States and China have already agreed on the text of the draft in principle. Russia has expressed reservations about part of the text, but appears to have largely accepted it.

The five permanent members of the council, also including Britain and France, are likely to hold informal consultations next Monday in a bid to seek its passage by the full 15-member council by the middle of next week, U.N. diplomats said.

The centerpiece of the fresh sanctions is a cap on North Korea’s coal exports, with Pyongyang’s main trading partner and close ally China in mind, that a Security Council source said could deal a heavy blow to the cash-strapped country if implemented to the full extent.

According to the draft, the resolution would set an upper limit on the North’s coal exports both in value and volume terms, obliging importing countries to report their transactions to the council.

The U.S.-drafted resolution would set a U.N. cap on North Korean coal exports with the aim of cutting hard currency revenues by at least $700 million.

The resolution would also restrict North Korea’s maritime and financial sectors. If successful, it could cut the country’s $3 billion in annual export earnings by at least $800 million, Security Council diplomats said.

The restrictions on coal would bar exports connected to individuals involved in North Korea’s weapons programs, said the diplomats, who did want to be identified as discussions were still underway. The new resolution would also target other North Koreans individuals and entities, they said.

The new resolution is intended to close loopholes in the previous sanctions resolution adopted by the Security Council in March in response to Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test in January and its subsequent rocket launch using ballistic missile technology, both of which are banned under past resolutions.

Although the March resolution contained provisions limiting U.N. member states from importing North Korean coal, iron and iron ore, an exceptional clause over transactions for “livelihood purposes” has undermined its effectiveness.

Chinese coal imports from the North have surged in recent months, raising concerns that the deals are generating revenue for Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

The Security Council is also expected to add new names of officials and entities linked to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs to the U.N. sanctions blacklist, which provides for an asset freeze, according to the draft.

The United States and China have spent about 2½ months negotiating the latest draft, which would be the sixth draft of U.N. sanctions imposed on Pyongyang since its first nuclear test in 2006.

North Korea has heightened tensions by drastically increasing its nuclear and missile testing this year. It conducted the latest nuclear test on Sept. 9 following one in January, and also carried out more than 20 ballistic missile tests this year.

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