UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved tough new sanctions against North Korea on Friday in response to its latest launch of a ballistic missile that Pyongyang says is capable of reaching anywhere on the U.S. mainland.
The new sanctions include sharply lower limits on North Korea’s oil imports, the return home of all North Koreans working overseas within 24 months, and a crackdown on ships smuggling banned items including coal and oil to and from the country.
“We believe maximum pressure today is our best lever to a political and diplomatic solution tomorrow ... (and) our best antidote to the risk of war,” said France’s U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre.
But the resolution doesn’t include even harsher measures sought by the Trump administration that would ban all oil imports and freeze international assets of the government and its leader, Kim Jong Un.
The resolution, drafted by the United States and negotiated with China, drew criticism from Russia for the short time the 13 other council nations had to consider the text, and last-minute changes to the text. One of those changes was raising the deadline for North Korean workers to return home from 12 months to 24 months.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said after the vote that “the unity this council has shown in leveling these unprecedented sanctions is a reflection of the international outrage at the Kim regime’s actions.”
The resolution caps crude oil imports at 4 million barrels a year. And it caps imports of refined oil products, including diesel and kerosene, at 500,000 barrels a year. This represents a nearly 90 percent ban of refined products, which are key to North Korea’s economy, and a reduction from the 2 million barrels a year the council authorized in September.
The new sanctions also ban the export of food products, machinery, electrical equipment, earth and stones, wood and vessels from North Korea. And it bans all countries from exporting industrial equipment, machinery, transportation vehicles and industrial metals to the country.