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Washington resolution aims to freeze Kim Jong-un’s assets

Sept 08,2017
The United States is proposing fresh UN Security Council sanctions, including an oil embargo on North Korea and a freeze of leader Kim Jong-un and his government’s assets, as confirmed in its draft resolution currently being circulated amongst member states.

A Sept. 6 version of the resolution, reviewed by the Korea JoongAng Daily and other media outlets, calls to prohibit the supply, sale or transfer to North Korea of crude oil, condensate, refined petroleum products and natural gas liquids.

Along with the oil embargo, the United States wants to impose a ban on the country’s exports of textiles, as well as the hiring of North Korea’s roughly 50,000 overseas forced laborers, mostly in China and Russia, who provide funding for the regime.

It also calls for blacklisting Kim Jong-un, chairman of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, which would impose a freeze on his assets and a travel ban for the first time, if approved by the council.

The North Korean leader’s younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, a vice director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Workers’ Party, which controls the regime’s media and censorship, would also be blacklisted.

Other North Korean individuals included on the blacklist are Propaganda and Agitation Department Director Kim Ki-nam, Hwang Pyong-so, vice chairman of the State Affairs Commission, and Pak Yong-sik, a member of the Workers’ Party’s Central Military Commission. North Korea’s state-owned airline Air Koryo, which has faced accusations of illegally transferring arms, was among a list of entities to be sanctioned.

The United States has circulated a draft of the resolution to all other 14 members of the council, in response to North Korea’s sixth and largest nuclear test on Sunday.

The 15-member council is expected to put it to vote on Monday, as declared by U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley earlier this week when she called for the “strongest possible” sanctions resolution on the North.

For the resolution to pass, the United States will have to secure the backing of veto-wielding members China and Russia. Both have in the past resisted a ban of oil exports to North Korea, although on Thursday Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, “given the new developments,” China agrees that further UN sanctions are needed, though he did not specify what kind.

This comes as U.S. President Donald Trump’s top national security advisers detailed the administration’s strategy for dealing with North Korea in a series of classified briefings on Capitol Hill Wednesday. Trump also held a 45-minite phone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping Wednesday on how to restrain the North.

“I believe that President Xi agrees with me 100 percent,” Trump told reporters afterward. “President Xi would like to do something. We’ll see whether or not he can do it. But we will not be putting up with what’s happening in North Korea.”

Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday that Xi told Trump China is adamant about preserving the international nuclear nonproliferation treaty and resolving the issue through talks, adding that dialogue, combined with a set of comprehensive measures, is best for seeking a long-term solution.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow is concerned over cutting off oil supplies to North Korea in his meeting Wednesday with South Korean President Moon Jae-in Wednesday in Vladivostok.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that if the UN Security Council does not put additional sanctions on North Korea, he has an executive order ready for Trump to sign, forecasting secondary sanctions that would be imposed on any country found trading with Pyongyang.

“It will authorize me to stop doing trade and put sanctions on anybody that does trade with North Korea,” Mnuchin told reporters Wednesday.

In a briefing Thursday, Cho June-hyuck, spokesman of the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said, “The UN Security Council is currently discussing a new sanctions resolution that includes a ban on the export of oil to North Korea.”

Seoul is “closely cooperating with the United States and friendly nations for a strong response in the Security Council level,” Cho added. “Our government position is that a new Security Council sanctions resolution should not only cut off the flow of cash for North Korea’s illegal WMD program, but that strong and realistic measures have to be included in the resolution so that the North Korean government can feel the pain.”

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]