Tuesday, 26 September, 2017

Beijing's balancing act over North Korea

Kim Jong REUTERS SUPREME LEADER The agents are believed to be acting on the orders of Kim Jong-un
Andrew Cummings | 14 September, 2017, 01:15

The new sanctions imposed unanimously by the UN Security Council Monday ban North Korean textile exports and restrict shipments of oil products.

The draft proposes a cap of crude oil exports at current levels and adds a cap of two million barrels a year on refined oil, while it bans "condensates and natural gas liquids" altogether.

To placate the United States and signal displeasure with North Korea, China voted for the latest sanctions even as it insisted on watering them down to let Kim Jong-un know that China will not let him fall.

"The forthcoming measures by DPRK [the Democratic Republic of Korea] will make the USA suffer the greatest pain it has ever experienced in its history", Pyongyang's ambassador in Geneva told the UN Conference on Disarmament in the first North Korean reaction to Monday's unanimous vote.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry in a statement also lauded the adoption of UNSC Resolution 2375 as a response to the Pyongyang's latest nuclear test, which it said "showed the strong will of the worldwide community that it will not allow North Korea's reckless and irresponsible nuclear weapons development, a serious provocation to global peace and security".

"We will never forget the lesson that those who have evil intentions must be confronted."

North Korea warned the United States that it would pay a "due price" for spearheading efforts for fresh sanctions for this month's nuclear test, which followed a series of test missile launches, all in defiance of U.N. sanctions. It said the US would pay a heavy price if the sanctions proposed by Washington are adopted.

"But clear is the fact that the more recklessly the US resorts to irrational sanctions, pressure and military threats to the DPRK, the more rapidly the defense capability of Juche Korea will develop beyond the world's imagination".

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Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia said that Monday's resolution could be described as a "prologue" to a political settlement of the North Korea issue. They say usually negotiators take time quietly behind the scenes to come up with these new sanctions.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters that Beijing "approves further reactions and necessary measures by the UN Security Council" in response to the nuclear test.

Diplomats said China's United Nations ambassador, Liu Jieyi, who was on a Security Council trip to Ethiopia, flew back to NY on Thursday to take part in negotiations. Textiles are one of North Korea's major exports, with a total export value estimated at $750 million in 2016, and the tens of thousands of North Koreans working overseas send a significant portion of their earnings home to the regime.

The characteristically hyperbolic statement from the regime's foreign ministry likened the U.S.to a "bloodthirsty beast" and said the world will witness how North Korea "tames the US gangsters by taking series of action tougher than they have ever envisaged".

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently expressed doubt over whether sanctions are an effective means of getting the North to stop its missile and nuclear testing, and China, harbouring similar concerns, has repeatedly hesitated in the past to fully support US sanction plans. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has called on the worldwide community to suspend the flow of North Korean guest workers, who earn an estimated USD1.5 billion to $2.3 billion a year - much of which is sent back to the regime.

North Korea will be feeling the pain of new United Nations sanctions targeting some of its biggest remaining foreign revenue streams.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, China supplies most of North Korea's crude oil imports, which a U.S. official put at 4 million barrels a year. It also said Macron had expressed France's "solidarity" with Japan. The proposal says the Security Council is committed to restarting six-party talks aimed at negotiating a complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. This reconfirms that the two sides have converged on the idea of the "double freeze", by which North Korea would suspend its nuclear weapon and missile tests and South Korea and the United States would suspend their large-scale military exercises.

North Korea's Foreign Ministry said in a statement published on state media that if the U.S. does rig up the illegal and unlawful "resolution" it would respond unkind.

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