MS Risk Blog

New Sanctions Imposed on North Korea

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On 5 August, the United Nations Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea that could slash by a third the country’s US $3 billion annual export revenue. The move comes over North Korea’s two intercontinental ballistic missile tests, which were carried out last month.

The US-drafted resolution bans North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood. It also prohibits countries from increasing the current numbers of North Korean labourers working abroad, bans new joint ventures with North Korea and any new investment in current joint ventures. Speaking to the Council, US Ambassador to the United States Nikki Haley disclosed, “we should not fool ourselves into thinking we have solved the problem. Not even close. The North Korean threat has not left us, it is rapidly growing more dangerous,” adding “further action is required. The United States is taking and will continue to take prudent defensive measures to protect ourselves and our allies.” She further noted that Washington would continue annual joint military exercises with South Korea.

North Korea has denounced the sanctions. According to the North’s official news agency, the sanctions infringed on its sovereignty and vowed to take “righteous action.” The government statement reported by KCNA disclosed that Pyongyang would never place its nuclear programme on the negotiating table as long as the US maintained a hostile policy against the North.

North Korea has accused the US and South Korea of escalating tensions by conducting military drills. China and Russia have also slammed US deployment of the THAAD anti-missile defense system in South Korea, with China’s UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi calling for a halt to the deployment and for any equipment in place to be dismantled. Liu further urged North Korea to “cease taking actions that might further escalate tensions.”

Meanwhile on Monday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his US counterpart, President Donald Trump, agreed to apply maximum pressure and sanctions on North Korea in a telephone call, while China expressed hope that North and South Korea could resume contact soon.

While the UN Security Council has been divided on how to deal with other international crises, such as Syria, the 15-member body has remained relatively united on North Korea. However it must be noted that negotiating new measures typically takes months, not weeks. North Korea has been under UN sanctions since 2006 over its ballistic missile and nuclear programmes. The new measures came in response to five nuclear weapons tests and four long-range missile launches.