• Kyodo, Reuters

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The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday adopted a new sanctions resolution against North Korea, ramping up earlier punitive measures following the reclusive country’s fifth and largest nuclear test in September.

The 17-page resolution was unanimously adopted by the 15-member council after the text was settled upon in protracted negotiations between the United States, its author, and China, the North’s closest ally and major trading partner.

The centerpiece of the fresh sanctions is a cap on North Korea’s coal exports that could choke off funding sources for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs if implemented to the full extent.

The resolution set an upper limit on the North’s coal exports at $400.9 million or 7.5 million tons per year, whichever is lower, starting on Jan. 1. The measure is expected to cut the country’s hard currency revenues by at least $700 million annually.

The limits exclude coal exports linked to individuals and entities involved in the Kim Jong Un regime’s nuclear and missile development.

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 covering 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 new U.N. Security Council resolution also imposed additional punitive measures, including a ban on exports of copper, nickel, silver and zinc that provide an additional $100 million per year.

The sanctions have been expanded to cover other wide-ranging areas as well. U.N. member nations are now obliged in principle to suspend scientific and technical cooperation involving persons or groups officially sponsored by, or representing, North Korea.

The resolution prohibited Pyongyang from using real property that the country owns or leases in other U.N. member states for any purpose other than diplomatic or consular activities.

It also called on U.N. member states to limit the number of bank accounts to one per North Korean diplomatic mission and one per diplomat at banks and cut the number of staff at the country’s foreign missions on their soil.

Furthermore, 11 individuals and 10 entities connected to the North’s weapons development have been added to the U.N. sanctions blacklist, which provides for a global travel ban and an asset freeze.

“Sanctions are only as effective as their implementation,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council after the vote. “It is incumbent on all member states of the United Nations to make every effort to ensure that these sanctions are fully implemented.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hailed the new resolution.

“We highly evaluated Resolution 2321 adopted unanimously,” Abe said in a statement. “The resolution reflects the international community’s intention to take tough measures that are in a completely different dimension” from those adopted in the past.”

The United States and China have spent about 2½ months negotiating the latest resolution, which is the sixth raft 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.

In a separate move, the Abe government will convene a meeting of the National Security Council, possibly on Friday, to study the possibility of increasing Japan’s own punitive measures against North Korea, a government source said.

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