export-controls 14 September 2017

UN imposes strongest sanctions yet on North Korea

The UN Security Council has unanimously agreed, on 11 September, to impose new sanctions on North Korea (‘DPRK’), following its sixth nuclear test on 3 September. This will be the ninth such unanimous resolution imposed by the Council over the development of DPRK’s nuclear and ballistic weapons programme since 2006.

The new measures ban the export of textiles and place a cap on oil imports into the country, as well as prohibiting commercial joint ventures with North Korean entities and the future hire of North Korean workers. They are less severe that those originally proposed by the US – which demanded an embargo on all refined petroleum imports and an asset freeze and travel ban on leader Kim Jong-Un. The weakening was necessary to secure the votes of China and Russia. A Security Council resolution needs nine votes in favour to pass, with no vetoes by permanent members the US, Britain, France, Russia or China.

In 2017 alone, Pyongyang has launched two intercontinental missiles and flown a ballistic missile over Japan, in addition to the most recent nuclear test.

‘Today we are saying the world will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea,’ said Nikki Haley, US ambassador to the UN. ‘We have learned that half-efforts against the regime have not worked.’

Washington has upped pressure on China, the DPRK’s chief ally and trading partner, to rein in its neighbour, with the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (‘OFAC’) imposing restrictive measures on Chinese individuals and entities – including banks – it considers to be aiding the DPRK’s nuclear and ballistic missiles programmes.

In an interview with US news outlet CBNC on 12 September, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said:

‘North Korea economic warfare works. We sent a message that anybody that wanted to trade with North Korea – we would consider them not trading with us.’