US Is Said to Seek a Ban on Crude Oil to North Korea at UN
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. is circulating a draft resolution at the United Nations that would bar crude oil exports to North Korea, ban the nation’s exports of textiles and prohibit employment of its guest workers by other countries, according to a diplomat at the world body.
The proposal, which also calls for freezing the assets of North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un, has been circulated to the 15 members of the Security Council, according to the diplomat familiar with the proposal who asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations. The U.S. has said it wants the council to take up tougher sanctions at a meeting Sept. 11.
The bid for the toughest penalties yet against North Korea comes despite renewed warnings against such moves by the leaders of China and Russia, which have veto power in the Security Council. U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke for 45 minutes Wednesday about how to resolve the North Korean crisis following Pyongyang’s stepped-up pace of nuclear and missile tests.
“We will not be putting up with what’s happening in North Korea,” Trump told reporters Wednesday after the conversation. The two leaders had a “very, very frank and very strong call,” he added. Asked about possible U.S. military action, the president said, “That’s not our first choice, but we’ll see what happens.”
Xi reiterated China’s commitment to a denuclearized Korean peninsula while Trump emphasized Beijing’s role in influencing Kim, according to a summary of the call published in Chinese state-run media.
The call between the U.S. and Chinese leaders came after Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier in the day expressed concern that halting oil supplies to North Korea would hurt its people. Putin’s comments followed a request from South Korean President Moon Jae-in that he support more stringent United Nations sanctions.
“Stopping oil supply to North Korea is inevitable,” Moon’s spokesman Yoon Young-chan quoted him as saying. “I’m asking for Russia’s cooperation.”
Putin explained at length to Moon that sanctions won’t work on North Korea and that halting its oil supply would damage hospitals, his foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov said after the meeting, echoing the Russian leader’s earlier remarks that such action would be “useless and ineffective.” On Tuesday, Putin told reporters that Russia’s trade with North Korea is “almost zero,” and that its quarterly exports of 40,000 tons of oil to the country are “as good as nothing” relative to its global sales.
Even so, Ushakov said the talks had led to more “elements of commonality.”
The two leaders’ interaction raises questions over how far the Security Council will go in punishing Kim’s regime after it conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sunday. Russia and China have opposed doing anything that could lead to the collapse of Kim’s regime.
Trump has warned North Korea of “fire and fury” if it continues threatening America. He has also threatened to cut off trade with all countries that do business with North Korea. China is North Korea’s biggest trading partner.
Stocks fell in most Asian markets on Wednesday, and almost every sector of the Stoxx Europe 600 Index retreated, as nations grapple with how to deal with North Korea’s escalating provocations. The yen was near its strongest level for the year.
In a conversation with Putin on Monday, Moon had said it was time for the UN to seriously consider blocking North Korea’s foreign currency sources by cutting off crude oil supplies and banning its overseas labor.
“If we fail to stop North Korea’s provocations now, it could sink into an uncontrollable situation,” Moon said in remarks before the meeting with Putin. “I want to seek a fundamental solution to resolve the North Korea nuclear problem here.”
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