The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously Wednesday to dramatically strengthen North Korea sanctions, reported the New York Times. The resolution demonstrates increased cooperation between the U.S. and China, calling for the inspection of all cargo that enters and leaves North Korea, as well as banning all weapons trade and expanding the list of those who are facing direct sanctions.
The move intends to undermine North Korea’s ongoing nuclear program, making it more difficult to raise the money and obtain the technology and other resources it needs. North Korea has tested several nuclear bombs and ballistic missiles in recent months, with the latest launch happening just hours after the Security Council passed this week’s resolution and China froze money transfers to North Korea in all currencies. According to the AFP, North Korea fired six short-range projectiles — possibly missiles — into the Sea of Japan Wednesday in response to the sanctions. The objects travelled for 60 to 90 miles before falling into the ocean, reported Yahoo! News.
“Limited displays of military firepower have become a routine response by North Korea to international pressure over anything from its nuclear weapons program to its human rights record.”
The sanctions against North Korea were announced after seven weeks of negotiations between the U.S. and China, which remains the only major ally close to Pyongyang. This means the world will be watching what China – and Russia – do next, and if the two nations fully enact the sweeping measures announced by the U.S. this week.
U.S. President Barack Obama called the new sanctions “a firm, united, and appropriate response” to North Korea’s January 6 nuclear test and February 7 rocket launch.
“The international community, speaking with one voice, has sent Pyongyang a simple message: North Korea must abandon these dangerous programs and choose a better path for its people.”
The White House had also reportedly reached out to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un just days before North Korea’s January nuclear-bomb test, agreeing to talks that would try to bring a formal end to the Korean War, but Pyongyang rejected the offer and carried out the atomic test anyway.
From Seoul, NPR’s Elise Hu reported that South Korea’s defense ministry is working to determine what exactly North Korea launched into the Sea of Japan, and noted that the latest resolution marks the fifth set of sanctions to hit North Korea since over the last decade.
“Regarded as being tougher than other recent sanctions on North Korea, the new measures doled out by the U.S. Security Council ban the country from exporting coal and other mineral resources.”
And according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, the coal and mineral industries have served as a “key source of hard currency” for the nation, accounting for nearly half of North Korea’s total exports.
But that’s not all. The European Union is reportedly considering additional measures against North Korea following the harsh new sanctions imposed by the U.S. this week, according to Reuters. According to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, the additional sanctions will demonstrate a strong sense of solidarity with trade partners like South Korea and Japan.
“There is scope for the European Union to adopt additional autonomous restrictive measures to complement and reinforce the new U.S. measures.”
France, Germany, Poland, and Spain are reportedly among the European countries that would like to see additional sanctions against North Korea. Germany is one of only seven EU members that has an embassy in Pyongyang. Trade between the 28-nations of the European Union and North Korea dropped to only 34 million euros in 2014, compared to more than 300 million euros in 2004.
[Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images]