Hermit state North Korea hit again by UN Security Council Sanctions

The UN security council meets to discuss North Korea on Friday 22-12-2017. Photograph: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

On 22-12-2017, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) imposed further sanctions on the hermit North Korean state. The new restrictive measures are expounded in Council Resolution 2397 (2017)

The latest round of sanctions was triggered by the ongoing North Korean ballistic missile testing which violates UN sanctions at a breath-taking pace. 

North Korea’s test on 29 November 2017 of its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile yet was its 20th launch of a ballistic missile in 2017, and added to fears that the hermit state will soon have a military arsenal that can viably target the U.S. mainland.

The new sanctions approved in the council resolution include sharply lower limits on North Korea’s oil imports, a crackdown on ships smuggling banned items including coal and oil to and from the country, and the return home of all North Koreans working overseas within 24 months. Note that the UN press release states that the repatriation period is 12 months. The period was extended at the last moment

But the resolution doesn’t include the harsher sanctions sought by the Trump Administration that would ban all oil imports and freeze international assets of the government and its leader, Kim Jong-un.

Gerelateerde afbeelding

North Korea is gearing up for yet another test_GETTY

Specifically, the new sanctions cover the following restrictions:

  • UNSC blacklisting  (travel bans and asset freezes) apply to 16 individuals and one entity (see UNSCR 2397 annex I and II
  • allows all UN member states to seize, inspect, freeze and impound any vessel in their territorial waters found to be illicitly providing oil to North Korea through ship‑to‑ship transfers, or smuggling coal and other prohibited commodities from the country
  • as of 01-01-2018, limits supplies of crude oil to North Korea to 4 million barrels or 525,000 tons in the aggregate per twelve month period (a nearly 90% ban on refined products, which are key to North Korea’s economy, and a reduction from the 2 million barrels a year the UNSC  authorized in September)
  • as of 01-01-2018, limits supplies of refined petroleum, including diesel and kerosene, to North Korea to 500,000 barrels for a twelve month period 
  • expands the current sectoral sanctions by prohibiting the supply, sale or transfer, directly or indirectly of:
    • food and agricultural products (HS codes 12, 08, 07),
    • machinery (HS code 84), 
    • electrical equipment (HS code 85),
    • earth and stone including magnesite and magnesia (HS code 25),
    • wood (HS code 44), 
    • vessels (HS code 89), and
      • that all States shall prohibit the procurement of the above-mentioned commodities and products from North Korea by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, whether or not originating in the territory of North Korea, 
      • clarifies that the full sectoral ban on seafood in paragraph 9 of resolution 2371 (2017) prohibits North Korea from selling or transferring, directly or indirectly, fishing rights, and
      • further decides that for sales of and transactions involving all commodities and products from North Korea whose transfer, supply, or sale by North Korea are prohibited by this paragraph and for which written contracts have been finalized prior to the adoption of this resolution, all States may only allow those shipments to be imported into their territories up to 30 days from the date of adoption of this resolution with notification provided to the [UNSC] Committee containing details on those imports by no later than 45 days after the date
        of adoption of this resolution
  • introduces a ban on the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to North Korea of:
    • all industrial machinery (HS codes 84 and 85),
    • transportation vehicles (HS codes 86 through 89), and
    • iron, steel, and other metals (HS codes 72 through 83) and
    • further decides that this provision shall not apply with respect to the provision of spare parts needed to maintain the safe operation of North Korean commercial civilian passenger aircraft (currently consisting of the following aircraft models and types: An-24R/RV, An-148-100B, Il-18D, Il-62M, Tu-134B-3, Tu-154B, Tu-204-100B, and Tu-204-300)
  • requires that all UN member states shall repatriate to North Korea:
    • all North Korean nationals earning income in their territories – no later than 24 months – barring no legal and/or humanitarian obstacles (according to reports in the media, the U.S. mission to the UN said a cutoff on new work permits would eventually cost North Korea about $500m a year once current work permits expire. One U.S. official is reported to estimate that roughly 93,000 North Koreans are working abroad); and
    • all North Korean government safety oversight attachés monitoring North Korean workers abroad immediately. 

As usual, North Korea has condemned the latest round of sanctions, calling them a declaration to war; and we in the West continue to believe that sanctions will stop the North Korean regime from continuing to develop nuclear missiles.

Tja, given the insouciance of the North Korean Government, i.e. to invest its scare resources in developing weapons instead of feeding its population, we must assume a further imposition of sanctions, or even worse…. 

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