US proposes further sanctions on N.Korea

UN Security Council resolution drafted with China's agreement; more added to blacklist

UNITED NATIONS • The United States has presented a draft United Nations Security Council resolution that would impose new sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, diplomats said.

The text - drafted in agreement with China, traditionally Pyongyang's sole diplomatic and military ally - was set to be submitted to a council vote yesterday (US time).

The text of the draft, a copy of which Agence France-Presse obtained, condemns "in the strongest terms" Pyongyang's series of nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

The UN council calls on the North to "abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner", and end all ballistic missile test launches.

An annex to the resolution adds another 14 individuals and four entities accused of contributing to the programmes to a lengthy blacklist; their assets would be frozen and they would face a travel ban.

Those listed are bank and corporate executives involved in military financing, or officials in North Korea's Workers' Party.

The first on the list, Cho Il U, is described as the man "believed to be in charge of overseas espionage operations and foreign intelligence collection" for the Kim Jong Un regime.

The entities listed include Koryo Bank, two trading houses linked to North Korea's military, and the army's Strategic Rocket Force.

The US has been negotiating for weeks with China on how to respond to Pyongyang's missile tests. Washington is counting on Beijing to bring the North in line.

"China has agreed to this text... and the American idea is to move rather quickly," one council diplomat told AFP.

The diplomat added that none of the five veto-wielding permanent members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the US - had threatened to block the resolution.

But Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday that Moscow is preparing retaliatory measures in response to US sanctions on some Russian companies and citizens over alleged connections to North Korea.

Pyongyang has carried out two atomic tests and dozens of missile launches since the beginning of last year in its quest to develop a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to continental US.

The Security Council had threatened to boost sanctions against Pyongyang after one of its May test launches. US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said on Tuesday she believed Washington and Beijing could reach a deal on new sanctions by the end of the week.

The Security Council adopted two resolutions last year to ramp up pressure and deny Mr Kim the hard currency needed to fund his military programmes.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 03, 2017, with the headline 'US proposes further sanctions on N.Korea'. Print Edition | Subscribe