US proposes to cut off oil supplies to North Korea at UN Security Council
The measure would also include the repatriation of all North Korean nationals working abroad within 12 months.
The United States on Thursday presented a draft UN Security Council resolution ramping up sanctions on North Korea by cutting oil supplies vital for Pyongyang’s military programmes.
The council is expected to vote on the new sanctions on Friday, diplomats said.
The measure would ban the supply of nearly 90 per cent of refined oil products to North Korea and order the repatriation of all North Korean nationals working abroad within 12 months, according to the text.
The United States has been in negotiations with China, Pyongyang’s ally, on slapping new sanctions in response to the November 28 test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
Since last year, North Korea has carried out a nuclear test – its sixth – and a series of advanced missile launches which are banned under UN resolutions.
The latest draft would build on previous sanctions that restrict crude and refined oil deliveries to North Korea, most of which are supplied by China.
US President Donald Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping last month to cut off oil to North Korea, a move that would deal a crippling blow to its desperately struggling economy.
Tens of thousands of North Koreans have been sent to Russia and China to earn hard currency for Pyongyang, working in what UN rights officials have described as “slave-like conditions.”
The draft resolution would cap crude oil supplies to four million barrels per year and require countries to seek UN permission to ship crude to North Korea.
Deliveries of refined petroleum products including diesel and kerosene would be capped at 500,000 barrels for next year, according to the measure that would order all countries to report their shipments to the United Nations.
The measure would expand a list of banned exports to include food products, machinery, electrical equipment, earth and stone including magnesite and magnesia, wood and vessels from North Korea.
All countries would be authorised to seize, inspect, freeze and impound ships suspected of carrying illegal cargo to and from North Korea, according to the proposed measure.
A total of 19 North Korean officials, most of whom work in banking, would be added to the UN sanctions blacklist along with the North Korean ministry of the people’s armed forces, which manages logistics for the army.
The United States has led the drive at the Security Council to tighten sanctions that are aimed at pressuring Kim Jong-un’s government to come to the negotiating table.
Last week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the council that the “pressure campaign must and will continue until denuclearisation is achieved” as he backtracked from his offer to hold unconditional talks with Pyongyang.
In negotiations on previous sanctions, the United States has first agreed with China on provisions of each resolution before presenting the text to the full 15-member council, which has then quickly voted.
So far, the Security Council has imposed a full ban on supplies of condensates and natural gas liquids to North Korea, capped deliveries of refined oil products to two million barrels a year, and capped crude oil exports at current levels.
The council has also banned exports of North Korean coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, restricted joint ventures and ended the hiring of North Korean workers abroad.
The United States has separately asked the council to blacklist 10 ships, including two Hong Kong-flagged vessels, for carrying banned cargo from North Korea.
China raised objections to the US request, saying it needed more time to examine the measure, diplomats said.
It will now be considered for approval on December 28.
The request targets the Hong Kong-flagged oil tanker Lighthouse Winmore, the Palau-flagged oil tanker Billions No 18, the cargo carrier Xin Sheng Hai from Belize and the Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship Kai Xiang.
Two North Korean cargo vessels, Ul Ji Bong 6 and Rung Ra 2 along with two North Korean oil tankers Sam Jong 2 and Rye Song Gang 1 are on the proposed blacklist as are the Chinese tugboat Yu Yuan and the Glory Hope 1 (also known as Orient Shenyu), a Panama-flagged cargo ship.