The United States Mission to the UN has proposed slapping sanctions on a new list of entities in a bid to shut down “North Korea’s illicit maritime smuggling activities to obtain oil and sell coal”.
In a statement issued on Friday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said: “Today’s unprecedented actions make it clear that the United States will not let up on North Korea.
“We are ramping up the pressure on the North Korean regime, and we’re going to use every tool at our disposal, including working with our allies and through the UN, to increase the pressure until North Korea reverses course.
“The world will not accept a nuclear North Korea.”
The move coincided with the US Treasury Department announcing the most wide-ranging tranche of North Korea-related sanctions it has ever issued, targeting one person, 27 companies and 28 vessels in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore.
Focussing on third-country entities suspected of being involved in supplying oil to North Korea, the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned nine international shipping companies and nine of their vessels, and designated 16 North Korean shipping companies.
Speaking about the newly-announced sanctions with reporters during a press conference alongside Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, US President Trump said: “If the sanctions don’t work, we’ll have to go phase two.
“Phase two may be a very rough thing, may be very, very unfortunate for the world. But hopefully the sanctions will work.”
The new package of sanctions comes just weeks after UN experts accused Pyongyang of flagrantly flouting sanctions on oil and gas, and illegally engaging in prohibited ballistic missile cooperation with Syria and Burma.
A UN report obtained by the Associated Press at the beginning February warned that Kim Jong-un’s regime still had access to the global financial system through “deceptive practices combined with critical deficiencies in the implementation of financial sanctions”, while the regime engaged in “widespread conventional arms deals and cyber operations to steal military secrets”.
In January, Trump took to Twitter to accuse the Chinese government of allowing illicit oil sales to be made to the North Korean regime, a move he argued could prevent a peaceful resolution to the escalating confrontation over Kim’s nuclear ambitions.
“Caught RED HANDED – very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea. There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen!” Trump told his followers.
Despite both the US and the UN ramping up pressure on North Korea over its nuclear weapons programme, Pyongyang has largely managed to dodge sanctions thanks to countries such as China and Russia allegedly turning a blind eye to entities that are happy to trade with the repressive state.