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U.N. mulls U.S. push for North Korea oil embargo, textile export ban
September 6, 2017 / 6:49 PM / 13 days ago

U.N. mulls U.S. push for North Korea oil embargo, textile export ban

FILE PHOTO - U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley delivers remarks during a meeting by the United Nations Security Council on North Korea at the U.N. headquarters in New York City, U.S., September 4, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Penney

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States wants the United Nations Security Council to impose an oil embargo on North Korea, ban the country’s exports of textiles and the hiring of North Korean labourers abroad, and subject leader Kim Jong Un to an asset freeze and travel ban, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has said she wants the 15-member council to vote on Monday on the draft resolution to impose new sanctions over North Korea’s sixth and largest nuclear test. However, Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia has said a Monday vote may be “a little premature.”

It was not immediately clear if the draft resolution had the support of North Korean ally China. Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted on Wednesday that resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis was impossible with sanctions and pressure alone.

A U.N. resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by the United States, Britain, France, Russia or China to pass.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday that if the Security Council did not act, he had an executive order prepared to send to President Donald Trump that would ”authorize me to stop doing trade and put sanctions on anybody that does trade with North Korea.

“The president will consider that at the appropriate time once he gives the U.N. time to act,” Mnuchin told reporters.

Since 2006, the Security Council has unanimously adopted eight resolutions ratcheting up sanctions on North Korea over its ballistic missile and nuclear programs. Haley said the incremental approach had not worked and a diplomatic solution could only be reached by imposing the strongest sanctions.

The new draft U.N. resolution would ban exports to North Korea of crude oil, condensate, refined petroleum products and natural gas liquids.

China supplies most of North Korea’s crude. According to South Korean data, Beijing supplies roughly 500,000 tonnes of crude oil annually. It also exports 200,000 tonnes of oil products, according to U.N. data. Russia’s exports of crude oil to North Korea are about 40,000 tonnes a year.

BAN ON NORTH KOREAN WORKERS

FILE PHOTO: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un talks with officials at the ballistic rocket launch drill of the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army (KPA) at an unknown location, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on March 11, 2016. REUTERS/KCNA/File Pix

The Security Council last month imposed new sanctions over North Korea’s two long-range missile launches in July. The Aug. 5 resolution aimed to slash by a third Pyongyang’s $3 billion annual export revenue by banning coal, iron, lead and seafood.

The new draft resolution would remove an exception for transshipments of Russian coal via the North Korean port of Rajin. In 2013 Russia reopened a railway link with North Korea, from the Russian eastern border town of Khasan to Rajin, to export coal and import goods from South Korea and elsewhere.

The Aug. 5 resolution capped the number of North Koreans working abroad at the current level. The new draft resolution would impose a complete ban on the hiring and payment of North Korean labourers abroad.

Some diplomats estimate that between 60,000 and 100,000 North Koreans work abroad. A U.N. human rights investigator said in 2015 that North Korea was forcing more than 50,000 people to work abroad, mainly in Russia and China, earning between $1.2 billion and $2.3 billion a year. The wages of workers sent abroad provide foreign currency for the Pyongyang government.

TEXTILE BAN

The draft resolution would ban textiles, which were North Korea’s second-biggest export after coal and other minerals in 2016, totalling $752 million, according to data from the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA). Nearly 80 percent of the textile exports went to China.

The assets of military-controlled airline Air Koryo would be frozen if the draft resolution is adopted. It flies to Beijing and a few other cities in China, including Dandong, the main transit point for trade between the two countries. It also flies to Vladivostok in Russia.

Along with blacklisting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the draft resolution would impose a travel ban and asset freeze on four other senior North Korean officials. The Worker’s Party of Korea and the government of North Korea would also be subjected to an asset freeze.

The draft resolution would allow states to intercept and inspect on the high seas vessels that have been blacklisted by the Security Council. Currently nearly two dozen vessels are listed and the new draft text would add another nine ships.

The draft resolution does not contain any new language on the political track. It again reaffirms council support and calls for a resumption of talks between North Korea, the United States, South Korea, China, Japan and Russia.

China and Russia have been pushing their proposal to kick-start talks with a joint suspension of North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs and the military exercises by the United States and South Korea. Haley has dismissed the suggestion as “insulting.”

Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by James Dalgleish and Leslie Adler

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