The United Nations Security Council on Friday placed sanctions on North Korea for the third time this year, demanding countries repatriate North Korean guest workers within two years and further squeezing its oil imports.
The sanctions were adopted by a 15-0 vote, three weeks after Pyongyang said it had tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.
The United States sponsored the resolution, which was backed by China and Russia, but failed to get the maximum sanctions it had hoped for.
Washington wanted an estimated 93,000 North Koreans working abroad to be expelled within one year, not two, because their earnings help fund the missile and nuclear weapons program. It also sought a total ban on oil imports. Instead, the resolution set caps of 4 million barrels a year on crude oil and 500,000 on refined oil products. That amounts to roughly a 90 percent cut.
The sanctions imposed Friday are the latest effort to get North Korea to enter negotiations and eventually abandon development of nuclear weapons. The previous round of sanctions imposed in mid-September was followed by more than two months of calm. That was shattered by a Nov. 29 test of what Pyongyang called its most powerful ICBM ever.
Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told the Security Council that the most recent test was “another attempt by the Kim regime to masquerade as a great power while their people starve and their soldiers defect.”
Tensions have been rising over the threat posed by North Korea’s missile development. Pyongyang has insisted its program is purely defensive, to deter a U.S. invasion. It has vowed to never give up its nuclear weapons, which the United States and its allies say must be the goal of any negotiations.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Carol Morello