NEW YORK - The United Nations (UN) Security Council unanimously stepped up sanctions against North Korea on Monday over the country’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test conducted on Sept. 3, imposing a ban on the country’s textile exports and capping imports of crude oil.
It was the ninth sanctions resolution unanimously adopted by the 15-member council since 2006 over North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs. A tougher initial US draft was weakened to win the support of Pyongyang ally China and Russia.
“We don’t take pleasure in further strengthening sanctions today. We are not looking for war. The North Korean regime has not yet passed the point of no return,” US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley told the council after the vote.
“If it agrees to stop its nuclear program, it can reclaim its future... if North Korea continues its dangerous path, we will continue with further pressure,” said Haley, who credited a “strong relationship” between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping for the successful resolution negotiations.
A week ago Haley called for the “strongest possible” sanctions, but after several days of negotiations, Washington dropped several measures to win the support of Russia and China, including a bid for an oil embargo and the blacklisting of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the national airline.
Russia had condemned the idea of tightening sanctions on North Korea without any political push to resolve the crisis. Russia’s UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, told the Security Council on Monday that Moscow supported the resolution because “leaving nuclear tests without a firm reaction would be wrong.”
He again raised the Chinese and Russian proposal of a dual suspension of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile testing along with US and South Korean military exercises in a bid to kick-start talks. Haley has dismissed it as insulting.
“We think it’s a big mistake to underestimate this Russia, China initiative. It remains on the table at the Security Council and we will insist on it being considered,” Nebenzia said.
There was new political language in the resolution urging “further work to reduce tensions so as to advance the prospects for a comprehensive settlement.”
China’s UN ambassador, Liu Jieyi, called for a resumption of negotiations “sooner rather than later.” He called on North Korea to “take seriously” the will of the international community to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile development.