| UNITED NATIONS
UNITED NATIONS Oct 10 China appears to have
pushed back on a U.S. bid to close a U.N. loophole that allows
North Korea to export coal for "livelihood purposes," saying the
well-being of North Koreans is a priority in negotiations on
possible new U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang.
Since North Korea's fifth and largest nuclear test four
weeks ago, the United States and China, a close ally of North
Korea, have been negotiating a new draft Security Council
resolution to punish Pyongyang.
"We cannot really affect the well-being and the humanitarian
needs of the people and also we need to urge various parties to
reduce tensions," Chinese U.N. Ambassador Liu Jieyi told Reuters
on Saturday of discussions with the United States on "a draft
resolution with a wider scope of measures."
In March, the 15-member Security Council imposed tough new
sanctions on North Korea following its fourth nuclear test in
That resolution bans the 193 U.N. member states from
importing North Korean coal, iron and iron ore unless such
transactions are for "livelihood purposes" and would not be
generating revenue for Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.
Coal is particularly important to the economic health of
North Korea because it is one of its only sources of hard
currency and its largest single export item. Coal is also
bartered for essentials, including oil, food and machinery.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said
on Sunday that some of the exemptions included in the March
resolution - out of concern for the welfare of North Koreans -
appeared to have been exploited.
"In the negotiation that we are currently in the midst on in
the new resolution, we are hoping to address some of the
shortcomings that we have seen," Power told reporters during a
visit to Seoul.
China's imports of coal from neighboring North Korea reached
1.53 million tonnes in April, down 35 percent on the previous
month when the latest U.N. sanctions were adopted, but by August
imports from North Korea had risen to 2.47 million tonnes.
"Fundamentally, no matter any resolution says, it is going
to be up to the Member States of the United Nations, and
particularly those Member States that have dealings with the
DPRK (North Korea), to fully enforce the resolution," she said.
China imported $1 billion worth of North Korean coal in 2015
and $73 million of iron ore, according to Chinese customs data.
"We are still looking at the specific things in the draft.
It's still in the process of being discussed," Liu said. "We
certainly hope that we will achieve a result soon, but it
depends on how we work together ... towards a common position."
Beijing fears strengthening sanctions could lead to collapse
in North Korea, sending a flood of refugees across the
relatively porous border into China, and it also believes the
United States and its ally South Korea share responsibility for
growing tensions in the region.
China has repeatedly expressed anger at the United States
and South Korea for their decision to deploy the U.S. Terminal
High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system in the South to
counter missile and nuclear threats from North Korea.
Power told reporters in Seoul on Monday that the United
States wanted a U.N. resolution "that makes a substantive
difference and changes the calculus over time of the North
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Grant McCool)