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Saturday, November 26, 2016, 15:00

UN ‘close to’ sanctions deal to slash DPRK export earnings

By Reuters
UN ‘close to’ sanctions deal to slash DPRK export earnings
This undated picture released from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Nov 13, 2016 shows DPRK leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting the outpost on Kali Islet and the defense detachment on Jangjae Islet in the West Sea on the southernmost tip of the western sector of the front. (AFP Photo/KCNA via KNS)

The UN Security Council's five veto powers are close to approving new sanctions on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to cut the isolated state's earnings from exports by more than a quarter, principally by targeting its coal exports, diplomats said on Friday.

The aim of the draft resolution is to close loopholes in sanctions imposed in March, following Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test in January

The US-drafted resolution, in response to the DPRK’s fifth nuclear test in September, would set a UN cap on DPRK coal exports with the aim of cutting hard currency revenues by at least US$700 million.

The resolution would also restrict the DPRK's maritime and financial sectors. If successful, it could cut the country's US$3 billion in annual export earnings by at least US$800 million, UN Security Council diplomats said.

The restrictions on coal would bar exports connected to individuals involved in the DPRK’s weapons programs, said the diplomats, who did not want to be identified as discussions were still under way. The new resolution would also target other DPRK individuals and entities, they said.

Diplomats said on Wednesday that Russia was delaying action on a draft resolution.

A senior UN Security Council diplomat who spoke on Wednesday believed that the 15-member Security Council could vote on the draft resolution as early as next week.

The United States and China have been negotiating a new draft Security Council resolution to punish the DPRK since its fifth and largest nuclear test on Sept 9.

The draft text was recently given to the remaining three permanent council veto powers – Britain, France and Russia.

The aim of the draft resolution is to close loopholes in sanctions imposed in March, following Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test in January.

The March sanctions banned the 193 UN member states from importing DPRK coal, iron and iron ore unless such transactions were for "livelihood purposes" and would not generate revenue for the DPRK's nuclear and missile programs.

After a fall in exports following the announcement of the March sanctions, DPRK exports of coal rose again and 2016 totals are expected to exceed those for last year, US officials said.

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