U.S., China agree to new sanctions on North Korea

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U.S., China agree to new sanctions on North Korea

Beijing and Washington have agreed on a United Nations Security Council draft resolution that will impose tougher-than-ever sanctions on Pyongyang in response to its nuclear and missile provocations, according to the White House.

U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi agreed in a meeting Wednesday “on the importance of a strong and united international response to North Korea’s provocations, including through a UN Security Council resolution that goes beyond previous resolutions,” according to Ned Price, spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council, in a statement.

“They agreed that they will not accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state,’’ Price said.

This indicated that the United States and China, both permanent members of the UN Security Council, agreed to stronger restrictions on Pyongyang to limit its access to trade and finance following its fourth nuclear test last month and subsequent long-range missile launch.

President Barack Obama made a surprise appearance, joining Rice and Wang in the talks, seen as an indication of the importance of the issue at hand. Price added that Obama joined “to underscore his interest in building a durable, constructive and productive U.S.-China relationship.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Wang held talks on Tuesday and said “significant progress” was made on reaching an agreement on a Security Council resolution.

Multiple diplomatic sources said Thursday that since the United States and China have agreed to a draft resolution, it will likely be put to vote in the council in the coming days.

The Security Council, after Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6, convened an emergency meeting, and negotiations between key players have been underway over the past six weeks, longer than any previous sanctions resolution on the Communist regime. Cooperation from Beijing was deemed necessary for the resolution to have teeth and put some pressure on Pyongyang.

The United States circulated a draft text of the resolution to the other three permanent Security Council members who wield veto power - Russia, France and the United Kingdom - on Wednesday, the AFP reported, citing a diplomatic source.

The resolution is expected to call for stricter restrictions on North Korean aircraft entering other countries’ airspace and limiting North Korean vessels’ access to international ports, according to media reports.

The resolution may also blacklist individuals or entities suspected of being related to North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction. It is expected to penalize third parties involved with supporting North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

North Korean agencies to be blacklisted include, according to diplomatic sources, the General Reconnaissance Bureau, which is involved in espionage activities; the Ministry of Atomic Energy Industry, involved in nuclear development; and the National Aerospace Development Administration, which oversees missile launches.

It is also looking to cut Pyongyang’s access to jet fuel, as well as ban the country’s coal exports, which mainly go to China.

“Following the meeting between the U.S. secretary of state and Chinese foreign minister on Tuesday, we are in the final stage where the permanent members and then the other members of the Security Council will fine-tune the draft,” said Cho June-hyuck, spokesman for Seoul’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a briefing Thursday.

“The text of this resolution is based on elements of a draft that we submitted and was drawn up with cooperation between South Korea and the United States,” Cho said.

The resolution can be approved as early as this weekend. Seoul said the aim is to adopt it before the end of this month.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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