NEW YORK – The United States is considering blacklisting North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un under a new U.N. sanctions resolution after the country test-fired a second intercontinental ballistic missile, diplomatic sources said Sunday.
But China and Russia are expected to oppose doing so, arguing it runs counter to seeking a peaceful resolution through dialogue.
Washington has apparently suggested that Kim be named to further tighten the screws on Pyongyang, which continues to pursue its nuclear ambitions despite international pressure to stop.
According to the sources, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is considering proposing sanctions to freeze Kim’s assets. But it remains unknown what assets would be affected.
Last year, Washington unilaterally imposed sanctions on Kim and 10 other top officials for North Korea’s poor human rights record and abuses in its notorious prison camps, marking the first time it attempted to pressure the top leadership through sanctions.
Past U.N. Security Council resolutions have not imposed sanctions on the North Korean leader on an individual basis.
Negotiations within the 15-member U.N. Security Council on North Korean sanctions are mainly led by Beijing, which is the North’s closest ally and biggest trading partner, and the United States. A U.S. government source said China is also consulting with Moscow.
Beijing and Moscow traditionally resist stronger measures that they fear would prompt a negative reaction from Pyongyang.
On the other hand, the United States, its western allies, Japan and South Korea have typically pushed for harsher measures to rein in North Korea’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile development programs that have continued to fuel tensions on the Korea Peninsula.
The diplomatic sources said the United States is also seeking to adopt other measures including restricting oil exports to North Korea and banning the country from dispatching its citizens to work overseas, a major means of obtaining foreign currency.
Friday’s missile test was North Korea’s 11th ballistic missile launch this year, and the last two were believed to be ICBMs that crossed a major threshold by putting American territory within striking distance.
The first ICBM is believed to have been launched on July 4, the U.S. Independence Day holiday, and the second on July 28, one day after a major North Korean holiday marking the armistice ending the Korean War.
All tests, regardless of classification, are banned under previous resolutions passed by the U.N. Security Council since North Korea conducted its first underground nuclear test in 2006.