A draft United Nations resolution seen by the Observer would also block textile exports and the hiring of North Korean labor by foreign countries. The American delegation has called for the UN security council to debate the draft, in an attempt to force decisive action following last Sunday’s massive nuclear test of a bomb, Pyongyang’s sixth.
The most striking language in the resolution authorizes naval vessels of any UN member state to inspect North Korean ships suspected of carrying banned cargo and to use “all necessary measures to carry out such inspections”. The implications of such a resolution would be far-reaching. Any attempt to board or divert a North Korean vessel could trigger an exchange of fire.
Naval blockades in the past have been viewed as acts of war.
In addition to banning any exports of “crude oil, condensates, refined petroleum products, and natural gas liquids” to North Korea, the draft resolution calls for a prohibition on the import of textiles and an end to the hiring of North Korean nationals, on the grounds that the regime uses the foreign currency earned “to support its prohibited nuclear and ballistic missile programs.”
Russia and China both employ cheap North Korean labor.
The draft resolution also calls for freezing leader Kim Jong-un’s assets abroad, as well as those of other top leaders.
It’s not likely that Russia or China will support such a drastic resolution, especially since both countries have interests in seeing North Korea remain intact. China doesn’t want a flood of refugees to deal with or a U.S. ally on its border; Russia wants to be seen as brokering peace in the region, which will elevate Moscow’s status globally.
“Up to now, the Chinese and the Russians have tried to keep on giving the US just enough to keep Trump playing the UN game,” Richard Gowan, an expert on the UN at the European Council for Foreign Relations, told The Guardian. “The question is what happens with an extraordinarily hard-line resolution and US pressure to do something quickly.”
If anybody blinks first, it would be the Chinese, he said, though he added that Russia would not want to be seen as vetoing the U.S. proposal on its own. Both China and Russia have veto power at the UN Security Council, as one of five permanent members.
“All sides want to keep this in the council. And, for all the talk, the US doesn’t actually want a war here,” Gowan said. “At some point, they are going to have to compromise or walk away from the UN.”
If the UN effort fails, the Trump administration says it has a Plan B — cutting off all trade with any nation that continues to do business with North Korea. That would include China, which relies heavily on the U.S. market for much of its economic growth.
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