Toughest UN sanctions yet to cost North Korea $800 million

09:06 - Source: CNN
Deal with North Korea 'as it is,' not as we want

Story highlights

The sanctions target North Korea's exports, particularly coal

They aim to limit access to cash to fund nuclear and ballistic missiles programs

New York CNN  — 

North Korea has been slammed with its toughest sanctions ever in a harsh international reprimand to the rogue state’s repeated nuclear and missile tests.

The UN Security Council voted unanimously Wednesday for stricter measures against North Korea nearly three months after the secretive nation carried out its fifth nuclear test.

By severely limiting North Korea’s exports of coal and non-ferrous metals, such as copper, the UN expects to cut the country’s revenue by more than $800 million every year.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the move, saying the Security Council had “taken strong action on one of the most enduring and pressing peace and security challenges of our time.”

“Today’s resolution includes the toughest and most comprehensive sanctions regime ever imposed by the Security Council,” he said in a speech on Wednesday.

02:09 - Source: CNN
UN votes to tighten sanctions against N. Korea

Sanctions include export, luxury goods

The resolution toughens sanctions on exports used by North Korea to raise hard currency to fund its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

They include:

  • A binding cap to cut North Korea’s coal exports by 62%, or at least $700m each year
  • Banning the export of statues, from which the country earns tens of millions of dollars each year
  • Banning the export of non-ferrous metals including copper, nickel, silver and zinc, worth $100m each year
  • Luxury items were added to the banned list including rugs and tapestries worth more than $500 and tableware and china above $100

Other measures target North Korean officials, diplomats and companies accused of involvement in nuclear proliferation activities, smuggling and the illegal sale of arms to raise money for the regime of leader Kim Jong Un.

In a statement, South Korea said it “strongly” welcomed the new sanctions against North Korea, saying they were appropriate for the “gravity and urgency of nuclear and missile threats.”

“North Korea must heed to the strong warning of the Security Council that unless it makes a strategic decision to take the path towards denuclearization … it will not only face more economic difficulties and diplomatic isolation, but it would also see its rights and privileges as a member of the UN suspended,” the statement said.

00:38 - Source: CNN
North Korea: The biggest issue for the next US president?

China supported vote

China, historically a key ally of neighboring North Korea, or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, had said Tuesday it would support the resolution in Wednesday’s vote.

“We think this reaction should have a clear target, which mainly aims at nuclear activities in the DPRK,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said. “The reaction should not affect the livelihoods, humanitarian needs, and development of the DPRK citizens.”

Negotiations on the draft UN resolution began shortly after North Korea carried out what it said was a successful test of a nuclear warhead on September 9.

State media said the warhead could be mounted on ballistic rockets and would enable North Korea to produce “a variety of smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear warheads of higher strike power.”

The Security Council has held nine emergency meetings this year in response to nuclear tests and ballistic missile activities by North Korea, Ban said in a statement Wednesday, an unprecedentedly high number.

“It sends an unequivocal message that (North Korea) must cease further provocative actions and comply fully with its international obligations.”

‘Dangerous choices’

Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said the Security Council had met in response to the “dangerous choices” made by North Korea.

She hailed the unanimous adoption of new sanctions and praised China, Japan and South Korea for their work on the resolution.

“Lately, this council has been divided on many issues. But the unanimous adoption of new sanctions shows that as long as the DPRK pursues this dangerous and destabilizing path, this council will impose ever harsher consequences on those responsible,” she said.

She said the tougher restrictions on North Korea’s coal exports and the new ban on exporting copper, nickel, silver and zinc would cut its hard currency for prohibited weapons programs by a quarter of the country’s entire export revenues.

In addition, the resolution imposes new measures to restrict the flow of banned materials into North Korea by road, rail, sea or air, Power said.

CNN’s Richard Roth reported from New York, and Laura Smith-Spark wrote from London. CNN’s Nanlin Fang and Chieu Luu contributed to this report.