Washington Gets Soft On North Korea Ahead Of UN Sanctions Vote


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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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The U.S. is reportedly pulling its punches on North Korea, weakening the newest United Nations sanctions resolution to get Russia and China to cooperate.

Responding to North Korea’s test of a possible thermonuclear bomb, the UN is set to vote on the watered-down draft resolution Monday afternoon, Reuters reports. North Korea intends to mount its purported hydrogen bomb on its new intercontinental ballistic missile, which can theoretically strike parts, if not most, of the continental U.S.

North Korea appears to have developed the ability to pour destruction on its enemies, including those that were once safely out of reach across the vast Pacific Ocean. The U.S. initially prepared a draft resolution designed to severely punish North Korea for its provocations, one which called for an oil embargo, seizures of North Korean smuggling vessels, bans on key North Korean exports, the freezing of Kim Jong Un’s financial assets, and travel restrictions for the young dictator.

The altered resolution no longer blacklists Kim and gives the North a little bit of maneuvering room on oil and gas. The new draft resolution caps annual exports of refined petroleum to North Korea to 2 million barrels, and crude oil exports are to be kept at current levels. The caps are expected to cut roughly 30 percent of the country’s oil imports.

The weakened resolution is a compromise with China and Russia, the North’s primary oil suppliers. While exact figures are unknown, North Korea is believed to import around 1 million tons of crude oil from China and roughly 400,000 tons from Russia annually. This led to a last-minute renegotiation.

China has been steadily increasing the pressure on Pyongyang by suspending mineral imports, closing border crossings, and limiting North Korean labor imports. There are even reports that some of China’s biggest banks are now banning North Koreans from completing transactions using their financial systems.

Nonetheless, China has been hesitant to put the kind of pressure needed to rein in the rogue regime on North Korea, as Beijing believes that dialogue, not increased pressure, is the key to resolving the crisis on the Korean Peninsula. Furthermore, China rejects arguments that it is responsible for the current situation.

North Korea has responded to the latest sanctions the way it has past sanctions, with fiery rhetoric.

Pyongyang threatened to inflict the “greatest pain” on the U.S., warning that the North is “ready and willing” to use its full power to make the U.S. pay the “due price” for its actions.

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