June 12, 2009 / 6:23 PM / 10 years ago

Q+A - What's behind the new U.N. sanctions on North Korea?

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council unanimously passed a resolution on Friday expanding sanctions on North Korea over its May 25 nuclear test, carried out in defiance of a previous resolution passed in 2006.

Q - Who are the winners and losers?

A - The United States is the biggest winner and North Korea the biggest loser, provided the sanctions are enforced. A previous round of punitive measures passed after Pyongyang’s first nuclear test in October 2006 had been ignored.

The United States, Japan and Korea pushed for a tougher resolution this time that included more binding language, such as requiring all countries to comply with inspection of ships and to conduct such inspections.

They had to make many compromises with China and Russia, which insisted on making provisions voluntary. But the fact that China and Russia were willing to support sanctions at all, diplomats say, shows that they may now be closer to the U.S. position on North Korea than ever before.

Q - Will the measures be effective or merely symbolic?

A - The measures will be effective if they are enforced. The most important player when it comes to enforcement is China, North Korea’s neighbor and the closest it has to a major ally. Beijing never enforced the sanctions adopted in October 2006 in resolution 1718.

Diplomats say that China’s and Russia’s frustration with North Korea’s nuclear arms program is growing and they are now more likely to help ensure that the sanctions are enforced.

Q - What does the resolution say about weapons trade?

A - The resolution expands existing sanctions to include a ban on the export of all weapons by North Korea — which Washington says will cut off a significant source of funds for Pyongyang. It also bans North Korea from importing all weapons except small arms and light weapons. States selling small arms to North Korea must report all sales to the United Nations.

China, which exports small arms to North Korea, pushed for the exception, according to one Western diplomat.

Q - What about financial sanctions?

A - The resolution bans all financial transactions with North Korea that could contribute to its nuclear or ballistic missile programs. It also urges, but does not require, states and financial institutions not to make new grants or loans to North Korea, except for humanitarian reasons, or to give any public financial support for trade with North Korea.

The council imposed similar restrictions on Iran, which diplomats say has made it difficult for Iranian companies to get any kind of international financing.

Q - Which companies or goods will be affected?

A - A list of goods, individuals and companies under sanctions will be drawn up by the Security Council’s sanctions committee within 30 days. So far there are three North Korean companies and no individuals on the U.N. blacklist.

Q - What impact will the resolution have on shipping?

A - The resolution authorizes, but does not require, any country that has reasonable grounds to inspect any suspicious air, land or sea cargo to or from North Korea.

On the high seas, inspections require the consent of the flag state. If the flag state refuses, it must order the ship to an “appropriate” and “convenient” port where local authorities will be required to inspect the cargo, seize any banned goods and destroy them.

The resolution does not authorize the use of force. If a North Korean ship refuses to be inspected, the only recourse is to report the refusal to the Security Council.

Q - How important are arms exports to North Korea?

A - Weapons exports are a key source of revenue for North Korea’s ramshackle economy, and a means through which Pyongyang cements its ties with other “rogue states” hostile to the West. A study by the U.S.-based Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis think tank this year estimates that Pyongyang earns around $1.5 billion a year from missile sales. It is unclear how much it earns from small arms sales.

North Korean missile technology has already been exported to Pakistan, Libya, Iran, Syria and Egypt. Washington says Pyongyang has also exported nuclear technology to Syria.

Q - What impact with the resolution have on North Korea’s impoverished population?

A - Security Council members said the sanctions target the country’s nuclear and missile programs and should have no impact on the general population.

Q - Is there a way out for North Korea?

A - If North Korea agrees to give up its nuclear weapons program, end ballistic missile launches and return to the negotiating table, the council can suspend the sanctions.

Compiled by Louis Charbonneau and Claudia Parsons; Edited by David Storey

0 : 0
  • narrow-browser-and-phone
  • medium-browser-and-portrait-tablet
  • landscape-tablet
  • medium-wide-browser
  • wide-browser-and-larger
  • medium-browser-and-landscape-tablet
  • medium-wide-browser-and-larger
  • above-phone
  • portrait-tablet-and-above
  • above-portrait-tablet
  • landscape-tablet-and-above
  • landscape-tablet-and-medium-wide-browser
  • portrait-tablet-and-below
  • landscape-tablet-and-below