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Will New UN Measures Get North Korea to Change?

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Nations are expressing support for new United Nations restrictions placed on North Korea in reaction to its sixth nuclear test.

The U.N. Security Council voted 15-0 to approve new sanctions. The Council hopes the measures will force North Korea to observe existing U.N. resolutions. South Korea’s presidential office said the vote showed that the U.N. was sending a united message.

“The only way for it (North Korea) to get out of diplomatic isolation and economic pressure is the come back to the dialogue table,” said Park Soo-hyun, a presidential spokesman.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also welcomed the new sanctions. He said it was important to use pressure to change North Korea’s weapons development policy.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks to China's U.N. Ambassador Liu Jieyi after a vote to adopt a new sanctions resolution against North Korea during a meeting of the U.N. Security Council, Sept. 11, 2017.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks to China's U.N. Ambassador Liu Jieyi after a vote to adopt a new sanctions resolution against North Korea during a meeting of the U.N. Security Council, Sept. 11, 2017.

The United States Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, praised the vote. She said the world would not accept a nuclear-armed North Korea. Haley said the world would act if North Korea failed to disarm itself.

Sanctions target resources, trade

U.N. Security Council resolution 2375 aims to punish North Korea for its September 3 nuclear test. The test was recorded as a 6.3-magnitude earthquake. North Korea says the test was of a hydrogen bomb, a weapon far more powerful than those tested earlier.

In reaction, the Security Council agreed to target North Korea’s trade and fuel imports.

The resolution calls for cutting North Korea’s oil imports by one-third. Haley called oil the “life blood” of the nation’s effort to develop a nuclear weapon.

North Korean imports of other fuels, including gas, are to drop by more than one half.

The resolution also targets sources of income.

It bans sales of textiles, meaning cloth or clothing, by North Korea. Haley said this ban would cost North Korea nearly $800 million a year.

The resolution seeks to bar new work permits for North Korean workers employed in other countries. North Korea has long been accused of using money paid to its overseas workers to support its weapons programs.

In addition, the Security Council called for freezing the assets of three powerful groups linked to the government.

China and Russia oppose stronger measures

The United States had sought stronger measures against North Korea. At first, the U.S. called for a complete oil embargo and a freeze on the assets of leader Kim Jong Un. It also sought to permit military force, if necessary, to stop ships supplying banned goods.

However, China and Russia pushed for the compromise version that the U.N. Security Council approved. Both China and Russia are permanent Security Council members and hold veto power on resolutions.

Both countries say that discussions are the only way to solve the North Korean issue.

On Tuesday, China’s official Xinhua news agency called for talks. It described the dispute as a situation where “nuclear and missile tests trigger tougher sanctions and tougher sanctions invite further tests.”

China and Russia also have urged the United States to suspend its joint military training with South Korea in exchange for a North Korean nuclear freeze.

However, supporters of the Trump administration’s policy of “maximum pressure” on North Korea say the most recent sanctions are not enough.

Grant Newsham is a researcher with the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies in Tokyo. He says if these U.N. restrictions do not work, the U.S. could punish Chinese banks that do business with North Korea.

On Tuesday, reports say some of China’s major state-owned banks have stopped providing financial services to North Koreans. That could be a sign of increased enforcement of existing sanctions.

But critics of North Korea sanctions say that approach will not cause the country to disarm.

I’m Mario Ritter.

Margaret Basheer and Brian Padden reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section, and visit our Facebook page.​

Words in This Story

sanction –n. measure put in place to cause a country to obey international law, usually by limiting or banning trade

isolation –n. apart alone

dialogue –n. talks and discussion between two or more parties

asset –n. something of value

maximum –adj. the most

trigger –n. something that causes an action or process to begin

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