By AFPNovember 30, 2016Latest : World
United Nations, United States: The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday unanimously imposed its toughest ever sanctions on North Korea, placing a cap on its key coal exports after the state´s defiant nuclear tests.
The new sanctions resolution, which was spearheaded by the United States and came after three months of tough negotiations with fellow veto-wielding council member China, passed by a 15-0 vote.
The resolution demands that North Korea "abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs" and takes aim at the state´s exports of coal -- its top external revenue source.
Under the resolution, North Korea will be restricted from exporting beyond 7.5 million tons of coal in 2017, a reduction of 62 percent from 2015.
Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said that the resolution would strip the regime of more than $700 million in hard currency, dramatically reducing the money it can spend on nuclear and ballistic weapons.
Power, speaking to reporters with her counterparts from US allies South Korea and Japan, called the resolution "the strongest sanctions regime the Security Council has imposed on any country in more than a generation."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged all countries to enforce the resolution.
Ban said he was still committed to "sincere dialogue" to resolve the nuclear issue and stood by calls to provide humanitarian assistance to ease the suffering of ordinary North Koreans.
China is North Korea´s primary ally and one of the few markets for its coal.
China has traditionally protected North Korea diplomatically, believing that Kim Jong-Un´s regime is preferable to its collapse, but has increasingly grown frustrated by the neighboring state´s defiance.
China´s UN ambassador, Liu Jieyi, reiterated that Beijing "strongly opposes" the North Korean nuclear tests -- but also made a veiled criticism of joint exercises between the United States and South Korea.
The UN Security Council resolution condemns "in the strongest terms" North Korea´s test on September 9 -- the communist state´s second just this year.
North Korea insists that its nuclear weapons are a deterrent to US "aggression" and has brushed aside earlier sanctions, which have notably targeted its weapons exports and access to financial markets.
In addition to coal, the Security Council banned North Korea from exporting certain metals including copper, silver, zinc and nickel that bring in an estimated $100 million a year, as well as statues and helicopters.
The Security Council also added 10 companies and 11 individuals, including the former North Korean ambassadors to Egypt and Myanmar, to a blacklist under which their travel is restricted and assets frozen due to their alleged role in Pyongyang´s military programs.
The outgoing US administration of President Barack Obama has generally favored dialogue over conflict but has taken a tough line on North Korea after Pyongyang rebuffed early overtures.
Power said that the latest resolution was groundbreaking in that it also took North Korea to task for its human rights violations.
In another rare clause, the resolution threatens North Korea with some losses of diplomatic rights at the United Nations if it violates resolutions.