North Korea has been further isolated after the United Nations voted for harsh new sanctions described as some of the toughest ever imposed by the international body.
In a move designed to starve North Korea of nuclear-program funding, all cargo going in and out of the country will now be inspected and fuel imports banned.
The new sanctions follow a nuclear test in January and last month’s rocket launch that the United States suspects used banned ballistic missile technology.
The measures, aimed at curbing North Korea’s military ambitions, have received overwhelming support from the United Nations Security Council.
Council president Ismael Gaspar Martins announced the historic outcome.
“The result of the voting is the following: The draft resolution received 15 votes in favour. The draft resolution has been adopted unanimously as Resolution 2270, 2016.”
The resolution effectively treats as suspicious all cargo going in and out of North Korea, by land, sea and air, with all countries required to inspect it.
US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power says the measures against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK, go further than any in the past 20 years.
“As the resolution that we have adopted today underscores, virtually all of the DPRK’s resources are channeled into its reckless and relentless pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. The North Korean government would rather grow its nuclear weapons program than grow its own children.”
Crucially, the resolution also bans North Korea from importing aviation and rocket fuel, which the United States claims the country has been using to launch outlawed ballistic missiles.
US Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinkin has praised the UN move as one of the toughest stances against nuclear proliferation in its history.
“It sends a very strong message, and not just a message, through the actions that it would require. It, I think, sharpens significantly the choice that the North Korean regime must face between trying to pursue its nuclear and missile programs or actually re-engaging the world and looking out for its own people. So we hope that the resolution moves forward quickly and that it’s implemented effectively.”
South Korean foreign minister Yun Byung-Se has described the North’s nuclear weapons and missiles program as the greatest threat to peace and security.
“If we are unable to stop Pyongyang’s continued pursuit of a nuclear arsenal, it will fuel a vicious circle of a regional arms race in an already heavily armed region.”
Beijing global policy analyst Tong Jow says the support of China, North Korea’s ally, for the sanctions is significant and sends a strong political signal to North Korea’s government.
“Everyone seems to agree the North Korean leadership is not totally rational. Given all the military pressure imposed by the United States, joined with its allies South Korea and Japan, I think all these new measures will make the North Korean leadership rethink whether they should continue with their nuclear-missile development.”
But North Korean foreign minister Ri Su Yong has criticised the United Nations.
He says his country is being punished by the international community when there is no evidence of human rights abuse.
(Translated)”Any resolution adopted against the DPRK in such sessions will remain nothing but only a proof of partiality and double standards. Whether or not such resolutions are to be put up to vote will be none of our business, and we will never ever be bound by them.”