United Nations Security Council adopts U.S. watered-down sanctions package against North Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un holds hands with other officials at a banquet in celebration of his latest nuclear test. Photograph: Yonhap/EPA

There are reports that the United Nations Security Council has just adopted the U.S. watered-down proposal for a new package of United Nations sanctions against North Korea. As usual, North Korea warned the U.S. that it will inflict “the greatest pain and suffering,” on the U.S. if it proposed a fresh package of sanctions in response to the regime’s sixth nuclear test last week.

In order to gain support of China and Russia, it is reported that the U.S. has dropped some of the proposed tougher restrictive measures, e.g. the much talked about oil embargo, travel ban and assets freeze for the hermit’s state leader Kim-Jong, and a naval blockade. 

Instead of a naval blockade and authorizing U.S. naval forces to intercept vessels suspected of carrying arms or fuel into North Korea and to use “all necessary measures,” to enforce compliance, the adopted resolution is reported to only request UN member states to inspect ships going in and out of North Korea’s waters – without the use of force (see link to draft resolution)

Bridges over the Yalu River connecting North Korea and China. A new proposal by the United Nations Security Council sets a cap on oil exports to North Korea, but does not block them altogether. Credit Johannes Eisele/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

This watered-down version is arguably already authorized by the Security Council,  but is a massive set-back for the U.S. It’s also questionable whether any sanctions package will stop North Korea’s ambitions to continue with its controversial nuclear weapons program. 

In the face of mounting opposition to tougher sanctions, especially by Russian President Putin, the U.S. decided to water-down the proposed sanctions package. Fore that matter, China is worried that a robust oil embargo could rip North Korea’s economy apart, which could lead to a collapse of the North Korean regime. 

In this context, some argue that an oil embargo would not have such a negative impact on Pyongyang’s economy – see a new analysis by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies – the analysis said, that North Korea could replace oil with liquefied coal.

To be continued… 

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