BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union ambassadors have reached initial agreement on imposing more economic sanctions on North Korea, officials and diplomats said on Thursday, including a largely symbolic oil embargo and a ban on investments.
The EU is seeking to go beyond the latest round of United Nations Security Council sanctions imposed after North Korea’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test, conducted on Sept. 3.
“Today the PSC (EU member states’ ambassadors) agreed on a package of new autonomous measures,” an EU official said.
The measures, if agreed by EU foreign ministers at their next meeting on Oct. 16, are expected to ban any EU investment in North Korea and expand the number of luxury products prohibited for export there, an EU diplomat said
They are also likely to include a new limit on the size of money transfers to North Korea. They currently are capped at 15,000 euros (13,184.66 pounds).
In addition, some eight new North Korean officials are likely to be added to the EU sanctions list, stopping them from travelling to the bloc and freezing any assets in European banks.
The measures are also likely to include an oil embargo, although the EU does not export any crude to North Korea. The aim is to push other countries to ban oil exports as well, either unilaterally or at the United Nations.
The United Nations Security Council this month capped North Korean imports of crude oil, but China and Russia resisted an outright ban.
The EU already has some of the world’s most restrictive sanctions on Pyongyang, including a ban on almost all trade, as well as the inspection of any cargo and personal luggage bound for North Korea. North Korean aircraft are banned from flying over EU territory.
However, Germany and Sweden are reluctant to totally isolate North Korea. They have maintained diplomatic ties with Pyongyang since the 1970s, providing humanitarian aid to North Koreans.
The new measures are intended to show solidarity with EU trade partners South Korea and Japan, and their direct effect is likely to be limited. Trade between the EU and North Korea fell to just 27 million euros in 2016 from more than 300 million euros a decade ago.
Reporting By Robin Emmott; editing by Larry King