The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously on Monday to impose a new set of sanctions against North Korea after the United States compromised with Russia and China who opposed an even harder line sought by the Trump administration.
The new sanctions set a cap on crude and refined oil exports to North Korea at 8.5 million barrels per year, which represents a 30 percent reduction, according to U.S. officials. The sale of natural gas will be prohibited and refined petroleum sales will be capped at 2 million barrels annually. The Security Council resolution also bans all North Korea textile exports, worth an average of $760 million over the past three years.
The sanctions also prohibit nations from authorizing new work permits to North Korean citizens around the world. More than 90,000 North Korean workers employed abroad bring the regime about a half billion dollars a year.
But these measures fall short of the stronger sanctions the U.S. called for after the Pyonyang regime detonated its sixth and most powerful nuclear device last week. In response, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley pressed for a total oil embargo. She also called for direct penalties, such as an asset freeze and global travel ban, against North Korean leader Kim Young Un.
But that proposal was a hard sell to the Russians and Chinese, who hold veto power in the Security Council.
China, North Korea’s top trading partner, is not eager to endorse sanctions that could undermine Pyongyang stability and cause millions of refugees to cross its border. Russia is itself chafing under sanctions imposed by the U.S. and the European Union in response to its annexation of Crimea and military operations in Ukraine.
After Monday’s 15-0 vote on the sanctions compromise, Haley called the package “by far the strongest measures ever imposed on North Korea.”
“Today we are saying the world will never accept a nuclear armed North Korea,” she said.
But after saying last week that North Korea is “begging for war,” Haley told the Security Council, “North Korea has not yet passed the point of no return.”