UN voting on weakened Pyongyang sanctions

South Korean activists bursting balloons with yellow banners reading "ICBM" and "SLBM" - the acronyms for intercontinental ballistic missile and submarine- launched ballistic missile - during a rally in Seoul yesterday to denounce North Korea's sixth
South Korean activists bursting balloons with yellow banners reading "ICBM" and "SLBM" - the acronyms for intercontinental ballistic missile and submarine- launched ballistic missile - during a rally in Seoul yesterday to denounce North Korea's sixth nuclear test.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

UNITED NATIONS/SEOUL • The United Nations Security Council was set to vote yesterday (6am today Singapore time) on a watered-down US-drafted resolution to impose new sanctions on North Korea over its latest nuclear test, diplomats said, but it was unclear whether China and Russia would support it.

North Korea has warned the United States it would pay a "due price" for spearheading efforts for fresh sanctions over this month's nuclear test, which followed a series of test missile launches, all in defiance of UN sanctions.

A US-drafted resolution originally calling for an oil embargo on the North, a halt to its key exports of textiles and subjecting leader Kim Jong Un to a financial and travel ban, has been weakened, apparently to placate Russia and China which both have veto powers, diplomats said.

It no longer proposes blacklisting Mr Kim and sanctions on oil and gas, a draft shows. But it still proposes a ban on textile exports.

North Korea was condemned globally for conducting its sixth nuclear test on Sept 3, which it said was of an advanced hydrogen bomb.

North Korea yesterday denounced efforts by the US to impose new sanctions against it. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said the US was "going frantic" to manipulate the Security Council over Pyongyang's nuclear test, which it said was part of "legitimate self-defensive measures".

"In case the US eventually does rig up the illegal and unlawful 'resolution' on harsher sanctions, the DPRK shall make absolutely sure the US pays due price," the spokesman, using the North's formal name, said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

South Korean President Moon Jae In said last week during a visit to Russia that shutting off North Korea's supply of oil was inevitable to bring Pyongyang to talks. But Russian President Vladimir Putin has remained firm that such sanctions would have negative humanitarian effects on North Koreans.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang yesterday stressed the need for consensus and maintaining peace. "China agrees that the UN Security Council should make a further response and necessary actions with respect to North Korea's sixth nuclear test."

And South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha said: "I do believe that whatever makes it into the final text and is adopted by consensus hopefully will have significant consequences on the economic pressure against North Korea."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2017, with the headline 'UN voting on weakened Pyongyang sanctions'. Print Edition | Subscribe