UN SC toughens sanctions against North Korea

Military drill

The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved new sanctions targeting North Korea's economy following the launch of a ballistic missile last month that Kim Jong Un's regime said shows it can now target the entire continental U.S.

On Friday (22 December) the US-drafted resolution was voted for by North Korea's main trading partner, China, and Russian Federation, a traditional ally of Pyongyang.

The resolution seeks to ban almost 90 percent of refined petroleum product exports to North Korea by capping them at 500,000 barrels a year and, in what diplomats said was a last-minute change, demands the repatriation of North Koreans working overseas within 24 months, instead of 12 months as first proposed.

The resolution also requires countries to stop ships from illegally providing oil to North Korea through ship-to-ship transfers and prohibits them from smuggling North Korean coal and other prohibited commodities by sea. The United States stations 28,500 troops in the South, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War. Crude oil supplies were capped at four million barrels per year and a ceiling of 500,000 barrels of refined petroleum products, including diesel and kerosene, was set for next year. It would also add 19 new North Koreans to the United Nations sanctions blacklist.

"This resolution bites", French Ambassador Francois Delattre said, adding that it increases pressure on Pyongyang.

"Today, we cut deeper", Haley said.

McCain feeling well, returning after holidays
The passage of the tax bill, however, does not hinge on McCain's support because the GOP has a 52-48 vote advantage in the Senate. The House takes up the final tax bill Tuesday, and once they've passed it, the Senate will bring it to the floor.

On Friday, a spokesperson for North Korea's Foreign Ministry called U.S. President Donald Trump's recently released national security strategy the latest American policy seeking to "stifle our country and turn the entire Korean peninsula" into an outpost of American hegemony.

The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said according to the BBC, that the sanctions sent a "unambiguous message to Pyongyang that further defiance will invite further punishments and isolation".

However, for the first time the resolution clearly states that North Korea will see its oil supply further restricted if it conducts more nuclear tests, or launches more ballistic missiles.

Speaking in The Hague, Guterres said the "unity of the council is necessary to create an opportunity for diplomatic engagement for the de-nuclearization to be achieved through peaceful means".

This is unedited, unformatted feed from the Press Trust of India wire.

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