Whether the new U.N. sanctions against North Korea will curb Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions, experts on the Koreas and members of President Donald Trump’s administration say placing limits on the Kim Jong Un regime’s oil imports amounts to a significant step forward.
After the underground nuclear explosion Sept. 3 that North Korea said was a successful test of a hydrogen bomb, the United Nations Security Council agreed unanimously this week to adopt the strongest sanctions ever imposed on North Korea. The sanctions are intended to further isolate the country economically and reduce the hard currency the regime uses to finance its banned nuclear weapons activity.
Notable sanction: oil imports
The Security Council also banned North Korean textile exports and barred Pyongyang from sending its citizens to work abroad. Foreign remittances had been another key source of hard currency for Kim.
The new measures are in addition to embargoes enacted last month for Pyongyang’s most lucrative exports — coal, iron, lead and seafood.
The most notable part of the package of multiple sanctions, however, placed a limit on North Korea’s imports of refined petroleum products. Beijing and Moscow, North Korea’s two main oil suppliers, insisted on allowing some imports to continue — 2 million barrels per year, which the Security Council is said to have interpreted as a 30 percent reduction from current levels — in order to derail the Trump administration’s original call for an embargo on all oil trade with Kim’s regime.
Many opponents of Pyongyang’s increasingly belligerent behavior and threats aimed at the U.S. and its allies expressed disappointment that the U.N. sanctions did not go further. However, policy experts noted the significance of China’s support for oil sanctions of any kind against North Korea — a first for Beijing.
“The oil sanction [is] important because it marks the first time that restrictions have been placed on…