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The Washington post: US sets Thursday vote on new UN sanctions on North Korea

26-5-2022 |

UNITED NATIONS — The United States called for a vote Thursday on a U.N. resolution that would impose tougher sanctions on North Korea for its recent launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles. 

The U.S. Mission to the United Nations has been working on the draft Security Council resolution for several months. But the measure faces opposition from North Korea’s neighbors China and Russia, which both said at a council meeting on May 11 that they wanted to see new talks and not more punishment for the North.

Whether China and Russia will use their veto power to block the measure or abstain remains to be seen.

“We don’t think a resolution as proposed by the U.S. can solve any problem,” China’s U.N. Mission said in a statement Wednesday evening.

The announcement of the vote and the U.S. release of the 14-page draft resolution came hours after South Korea reported that North Korea test-launched a suspected ICBM and two shorter-range missiles. It also followed Tuesday’s conclusion of U.S. President Joe Biden’s Asia trip that included stops in South Korea and Japan, where he reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to defend both allies in the face of the North’s nuclear threat.

Wednesday’s launches were the 17th round of missile firings this year by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the country’s official name. Experts have said North Korea wants to move ahead with its push to expand its arsenal and apply more pressure on its rivals to wrest sanctions relief and other concessions.

The resolution to be voted on Thursday would reduce exports of crude oil to North Korea from 4 million barrels a year to 3 million barrels, and it would reduce exports of refined petroleum products from 500,000 barrels a year to 375,000 barrels. It would also ban the North from exporting mineral fuels, mineral oils and mineral waxes.

China’s U.N. ambassador, Zhang Jun said that the direct talks between the U.S. and North Korea in 2018 produced positive results and a de-escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Anna Evstigneeva, echoed Zhang’s opposition to new sanctions, saying: “Unfortunately, so far the council has only tightened restrictions ignoring the positive signals from North Korea.”

In addition to further restrictions on North Korea’s oil imports, the draft resolution would ban the sale or transfer of all tobacco products to North Korea and tighten maritime sanctions.

The resolution would also impose a global asset freeze on Lazarus Group, which was created by North Korea. It says Lazarus engages in “cyberespionage, data theft, monetary heists and destructive malware operations” against government, military, financial, manufacturing, publishing, media and entertainment institutions as well as shipping companies and critical infrastructure.