China vows to take sanctions on North seriouslyChina said Thursday that it plans to follow the resolution unanimously adopted by the United Nations Security Council to impose the toughest-ever sanctions on Pyongyang for its nuclear and missile provocations.
Beijing’s enforcement of the sanctions is instrumental for the efficacy of Resolution 2270, which was passed on Wednesday by the Security Council at the United Nations headquarters in New York with the support of all 15 member states, in an attempt to curb the financing of North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction programs.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in a briefing that “China plans to protect this resolution in the future,” adding that the resolution was passed through the common intention of the international community to denuclearize Pyongyang.
On Wednesday, Washington bolstered its own set of unilateral sanctions on Pyongyang and blacklisted 11 individuals, including top aides to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and five entities linked to North Korea and its weapons of mass destruction programs.
Hwang Pyong-so, director of the North’s Korean People’s Army General Political Bureau - who is considered the second-most powerful person in the isolated regime - was among the North Korean officials included in the U.S. Department of Treasury’s new unilateral sanctions that are a part of Washington’s call for a strong and unified response to North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile activities. This move by the Barack Obama administration is the equivalent of blacklisting the Kim leadership.
Defense Minister Pak Yong-sik and Ri Yong-mu, a vice chairman of the North’s powerful National Defense Commission - of which leader Kim Jong-un is chairman - were also included on the blacklist.
“Today the United Nations Security Council approved a historic resolution which included key designations against North Korea, and the United States issued sanctions also targeting supporters of this repressive regime,” Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said Wednesday. “Together, these actions reflect a strong and unified response to North Korea’s provocative, destabilizing activities.”
The Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control also designated individuals involved with the North’s Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation, Pyongyang’s main arms dealer, such as Pak Chun-il, the North Korean ambassador to Egypt.
The five North Korean entities added to the blacklist were the National Defense Commission, Academy of National Defense Science, the Ministry of Atomic Energy Industry, the National Aerospace Development Administration and the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Military Commission.
All assets of those blacklisted in the United States or controlled by Americans are frozen, and Americans are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with those individuals or entities.
The State Department also put three entities and two individuals on its blacklist.
The fresh sanctions passed by the Security Council after Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6 and long-range missile test on Feb. 7 were described as “further than any sanctions regime in two decades” by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power at a meeting of the council.
Power called the resolution “robust” and said that it “goes further than the previous four UNSC resolutions on Pyongyang.”
This resolution would for the first time subject all cargo going in and out of North Korea to mandatory inspection. It banned the export of coal, iron, gold, titanium and other rare earth minerals being used to fund North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
It also limits aviation and rocket fuel exports to North Korea.
However, North Korea can export coal as long as the transactions are not used to generate revenue for its nuclear or missile weapons program, which provides a loophole.
Russia also insisted on easing the ban on aviation fuel exports to allow for North Korean commercial airliners refueling at Russian airports to receive jet fuel so that they can return to Pyongyang.
A prohibition will be set on the sale and transfer of small arms and other conventional weapons to and from Pyongyang, as well as a ban on the export of luxury goods to North Korea. North Korean diplomats engaging in illicit activities will be expelled from the country in which they are stationed.
The resolution blacklisted 16 North Korean individuals and 12 entities linked to its nuclear program, including Office 39, a secretive bureau that manages slush funds and generates revenue for the leadership, and the Reconnaissance General Bureau, its intelligence agency.
Some entities overlap with the U.S. Treasury’s blacklist, such as the Academy of National Defense, which is said to be involved in nuclear and missile weapons programs, and the National Aerospace Development Administration, for its involvement in rocket launches.
It also blacklisted 31 vessels owned by North Korean shipping firm Ocean Maritime Management Company.
Beijing’s cooperation is instrumental because North Korea depends heavily on China economically. The world is watching to see if China enforces the sanctions.
The resolution bans countries from allowing the opening of new branches, subsidiaries or representative offices of North Korean banks, and orders countries to close all North Korean banks and terminate all banking relationships within 90 days.
Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations Liu Jieyi, however, said the resolution was “a paving stone for political settlement of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula,” signaling a desire for a return to dialogue. He also expressed opposition to the deployment of the U.S.-led Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in South Korea.
Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin emphasized that the sanctions do not include any provisions that would affect “certain Russian economic interests,” namely a project to build a railway through North Korea to China and South Korea that would enable delivery of its coal. Russia asked for a 24-hour delay on Tuesday to negotiate its interests into the resolution.
U.S. President Barack Obama said the new Security Council resolution, which came after weeks of negotiations with China, sends “a firm, united and appropriate response by the international community” to Pyongyang to abandon its dangerous programs.
The resolution was immediately welcomed by the South Korean government, which had a hand in its initial drafting.
President Park Geun-hye on Thursday said, “Our government will cooperate with the international community so that the North Korean regime can abandon its reckless nuclear development and to halt the tyranny that represses the freedom and the rights of our compatriots in the North.”
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken agreed to further pressure Pyongyang to denuclearize through bilateral sanctions and international cooperation on the sidelines of a UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva on Wednesday.
“Our government will also review unilateral sanctions, following the United States’ announcement of its unilateral sanctions,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Cho June-hyuck said in a briefing on Thursday.
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]