New US sanctions package against N. Korea up for vote

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"If China and others continue to help North Korea evade sanctions, they should not do business in the United States anymore". But the Security Council eased off the biggest target of all: the oil the North needs to stay alive, and to fuel its million-man military.

The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a US-drafted resolution to impose new sanctions on North Korea on Monday -- a move that comes just one week after the rogue nation carried out its sixth and largest nuclear test.

A U.S. official, familiar with the council negotiations and speaking on condition of anonymity, said North Korea imports 4.5 million barrels of refined petroleum products annually and 4 million barrels of crude oil.

That could be a significant restriction.

The resolution is created to accomplish six major goals: cap North Korea's oil imports, ban textile exports, end additional overseas laborer contracts, suppress smuggling efforts, stop joint ventures with other nations and sanction designated North Korean government entities, according to a U.S. official familiar with negotiations. So the 2 million barrel cap could be cutting existing imports 10 per cent, or slashing them by more than half.

A panel of experts with the U.N. Security Council Sanctions Committee found North Korea nuclear facilities at Yongbyon, the test site at Punggye-ri and a uranium mine near Pyongsan are active, Voice of America reported Sunday. It said the US would pay a heavy price if the sanctions proposed by Washington are adopted. "But I'm not sure that they will really have much effect on the nuclear weapons and missile programs, given the priority that those initiatives must have for the DPRK leadership".

DPRK is the acronym for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Stalinist state's formal name.

Merkel is widely seen in Germany as a safe pair of hands at a time of global uncertainty such as the North Korea crisis, Britain's looming departure from the European Union and Donald Trump's presidency in the United States. Natural gas liquids are banned as well, along with other energy-related products.

It would also cap refined petroleum product imports to the North at 500,000 barrels during an initial period of three months from October through December.

The U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the council vote, said the Trump administration believes the new sanctions combined with previous measures would ban over 90 percent of North Korea's exports reported in 2016. China is clearly uncomfortable with the pressure it is under to shut down the supply of crude oil to North Korea.

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"But clear is the fact that the more recklessly the USA resorts to irrational sanctions, pressure and military threats to the DPRK, the more rapidly the defense capability of Juche Korea will develop beyond the world's imagination".

One metric ton is roughly equal to roughly seven barrels of crude oil.

Instead of an outright ban on North Korean labourers, the final resolution adds a caveat that says countries should not provide work authorisation papers "unless necessary for humanitarian assistance or denuclearisation".

North Korea's Foreign Ministry said in a statement published on state media that if the USA "does rig up the illegal and unlawful 'resolution, '" it would respond in kind.

North Korea warned today it would inflict "the greatest pain and suffering" on the United States if Washington persists in pushing for harsher UN sanctions following Pyongyang's sixth nuclear test.

The United had originally pushed for a strict oil embargo, as well as a freeze on the assets of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

He also opposed the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THADD) anti-missile system by the USA in South Korea asserting that it undermined the security of China and other countries in the region. The US, however, is believed to have compromised on these demands to ensure support from China and Russian Federation.

Both Beijing and Moscow had strong words for Washington.

The U.S. has called for sanctions that would virtually end all trade with North Korea and freeze all assets controlled by the regime.