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UN Toughens Sanctions With North Korea Over Bomb Test and Missile Launches

March 11, 2016

A 6,830-ton North Korean cargo ship was seized by Philippine government officials as it docked into Subic Bay on March 3. The vessel, its cargo and its crew will be held indefinitely as part of new tougher United Nations sanctions recently approved against the North Korean government.

This comes after continued overt breaches of international treaties by the North Korean government.  Just in the last several months the country has had a nuclear bomb test (on January 6) and launched multiple ballistic missiles using alleged banned technology (on February 7).  It is also threatening to do more.

In response this time, instead of just threatening to do something in return, the United Nations has implemented far tougher and tangible sanctions against North Korea. 

Source:  Twitter feed from U.S. Ambassador Samatha Power, immediately after the UN vote.

The new sanctions, unanimously approved by the entire United Nations Security Council as Resolution 2270, include that the UN:

  • Condemns the DPRK’s January 6 nuclear test and February 7 launch;
  • Reaffirms the DPRK’s obligations not to conduct any further launches using ballistic missile technology or nuclear tests, and abandon all nuclear weapons, suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program, and abandon all other WMD programs;
  • Clarifies a ban on technical cooperation with the DPRK on launches using ballistic missile technology, even if characterized as a satellite or space launch;
  • Imposes measures to constrain the DPRK’s conventional arms capabilities:
    • Tightens the arms embargo to prohibit the transfer of small arms and light weapons to the DPRK;
    • Closes a loophole that could have allowed the temporary transfer of arms for “repair”;
    • Creates a new conventional arms “catch-all” provision to ban the transfer of any item – even if not covered by the arms embargo – except food or medicine that could directly contribute to the operational capabilities of the DPRK’s armed forces or the transfer by the DPRK of any item that directly contributes to operational capabilities of the armed forces of another Member State outside the DPRK;
    • Clarifies that existing UN Security Council resolutions ban hosting of DPRK trainers or advisors, or other officials for military, paramilitary, or police training;
  • Affirms that existing UN asset freezes apply to vessels;
  • Targets the DPRK’s proliferation networks to limit the DPRK’s ability to smuggle and evade sanctions:
    • Requires states to expel DPRK diplomats engaged in activities prohibited by UN Security Council resolutions;
    • Requires states to expel foreign nationals involved in DPRK-related, UN-prohibited activities;
    • Requires states to close offices of designated entities and expel their representatives;
    • Highlights for states the risk of DPRK front companies;
  • Bans specialized teaching or training for DPRK nationals in fields, such as advanced physics, aerospace engineering, and advanced computer simulation, that could contribute to the DPRK’s proliferation-sensitive activities;
  • Imposes new cargo inspection and maritime procedures to limit the DPRK’s ability to transfer UN-prohibited items:
    • Requires States to inspect cargo to/from the DPRK or brokered by the DPRK that is within or transiting their territories (i.e., a mandatory cargo inspection regime);
    • Requires States to ban DPRK chartering of vessels or aircraft (with an exemption if States notify the DPRK Sanctions Committee in advance that such activities are exclusively for livelihood purposes that will not generate revenue for DPRK individuals or entities);
    • Requires States to prohibit their nationals from operating DPRK vessels or using DPRK flags (with an exemption if States notify the DPRK Sanctions Committee in advance that such activities are for exclusively for livelihood purposes that will not generate revenue for DPRK individuals or entities);
    • Bans flights of any plane suspected of carrying prohibited items;
    • Prohibits port calls by any vessel controlled by a designated entity or suspected of engaging in activity prohibited by UN Security Council resolutions on the DPRK;
  • Obligates the DPRK to act in accordance with its obligations as a State Party to the Convention on Biological Weapons and calls upon the DPRK to accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention;
  • Updates the current list of chemical- and biological-warfare items banned for transfer to/from the DPRK (with annual updates) and calls for the list to be further updated annually;
  • Directs the Security Council’s DPRK Sanctions Committee to update within fifteen days an additional list of prohibitednuclear/missile/chem-bio items banned for transfer to/from the DPRK;
  • Prohibits the transfer of dual-use nuclear/missile items through a binding Weapons of Mass Destruction “catch-all” provision and updates previous “seize and dispose” obligations;
  • Imposes sectoral sanctions targeting the DPRK’s trade in resources:
    • Bans exports from the DPRK of coal, iron, and iron ore, unless such transactions are determined to be exclusively for livelihood purposes and unrelated to generating revenue for the DPRK’s nuclear/missile programs or other activities that constitute UN Security Council resolution violations;
    • Bans exports from the DPRK of gold, titanium ore, vanadium ore, and rare earth minerals;
    • Bans transfers of aviation fuel, including rocket fuel, to the DPRK;
  • Imposes new financial sanctions targeting DPRK banks and assets.
    • Requires States to freeze the assets of entities of the Government of the DPRK or Worker’s Party of Korea determined to be associated with the DPRK’s nuclear or missile programs or other activities that constitute violations of UN Security Council resolutions;
    • Requires States to prohibit DPRK banks from opening branches in their territory or engaging in certain correspondent relationships with these banks;
    • Requires States to prohibit their financial institutions from opening new representative offices or subsidiaries, branches, or banking accounts in the DPRK;
    • Requires States to close existing representative offices or subsidiaries, branches, or banking accounts in the DPRK if reasonable grounds exist to believe such financial services could contribute to the DPRK’s nuclear or missile programs or UNSCR violations;
    • Prohibits all public or private financial support for trade with the DPRK, including export credits, guarantees, and insurance, if such support could contribute reasonable grounds to believe there is a link to the DPRK’s nuclear or ballistic missile programs or other activities that constitute UNSCR violations;
    • Highlights the risk that the DPRK can use gold to evade sanctions;
    • Urges states to apply Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations to effectively implement targeted financial sanctions related to proliferation;
  • Provides an illustrative list of specific luxury goods that are banned for transfer to the DPRK.
  • Provides new sanctions implementation tools, including new requirements for the DPRK Sanctions Committee to improve enforcement, such as regularly updating the names of front companies and aliases on the Committee’s sanctions list.
  • Underlines that these measures are not intended to have adverse humanitarian consequences;
  • Reiterates the importance of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia; reaffirms support to the Six-Party Talks and calls for their resumption; and reiterates support for the 2005 Joint- Statement commitments; and
  • Expresses the Council’s determination to take further significant measures in the event of further DPRK nuclear tests or launches.

The resolution also identifies 16 specific individuals, 12 organizational entities (including governments and banks), 31 specific vessels required to be impounded, and a list of examples of luxury goods that must be banned for trade with North Korea.  (Luxury goods are banned because they may be worth enough to be exchanged for significant sums of cash or gold or banned goods.)

(source:  DPRK Resolution 2270 Fact Sheet, distributed by the U.S. Government)

And while the resolution does state that the measures are not intended to have “adverse humanitarian effects”, the North Korean ship impounded now in the Philippines’ Subic Bay for over a week still has all crew members held on ship under house arrest.  No provisions are being provided to feed or house any of them in any way, and they are being denied access to any of their cargo.

What North Korea will do next is anyone’s guess.  The seizure of a first North Korean ship – in addition to additional assets being frozen and much tougher trade sanctions put in place – is at least a sign that the rest of the world is taking North Korea’s bomb tests, missile launches, seizure of certain assets in the Korean DMZ, and further threats – far more seriously than even in the recent past.



Copyright: North America Procurement Council, Inc. PBC