UN delays vote on new N Korea sanctions at Russia's request

UN Security Council delays vote on US-China drafted resolution to expand sanctions on North Korea, after Russia said it needed more time to review text

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

The United Nations logo is displayed on a door at UN headquarters in New York February 26, 2011.

The UN Security Council (UNSC) delayed until Wednesday a vote on a US-China drafted resolution that would dramatically expand UN sanctions on North Korea after Russia said once again it needed more time to review the text, diplomats said.

The vote, which had been scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, is now planned for 10am (1500 GMT) on Wednesday, the diplomats said on condition of anonymity.

"Subsequent to the United States' request ... to schedule a council vote for this afternoon, Russia invoked a procedural 24-hour review of the resolution, so the vote will be on Wednesday," the US mission to the United Nations said in a statement to reporters.

The vote was already delayed last weekend after Moscow said it needed more time to analyse its content. The draft resolution had been consequently prepared by US-China’s collaboration last week.

US Ambassador Samantha Power said that the adoption of the resolution would send "an unambiguous and unyielding message to the DPRK regime: The world will not accept your proliferation. There will be consequences for your actions."

She was using the acronym for North Korea's formal name.

15-nation council will decide on new measures that the United States describe as the severest UN sanctions on North Korea.

The United States presented a draft resolution to the 15-nation council following an agreement with China to impose more severe restrictions on Pyongyang because of its nuclear test and rocket launch.

Russia - North Korea relations

Bilateral relations between Moscow and Pyongyang has been substantially improved when President Vladimir Putin took office. He made first official visit to Pyongyang in 2000 and signed a “joint declaration” with his counterpart then North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.  

Even though Pyongyang was outcast from international community due to its nuclear ambitions, Moscow preferred to get on with its south-eastern neighbour by cancelling 90% of Pyongyang’s debts, almost $10 billion of 10.96 billion total amount, in 2012 in exchange for facilitating the building of a gas pipeline to South Korea.

That debt was inherited to North Korea because of its borrowings from Soviet Union.

Vladimir Putin shakes hands with former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il ( Kim Jong-un's father) in 2001 [AP]

Russia's state-owned top energy producer Gazprom has been long intending to build a gas pipeline via North Korea to South Korea with a goal of shipping 10 billion cubic metres of gas annually.

Russia and North Korea had also declared 2015 as “year of friendship.” 

Russia is keen to strengthen its economic ties with Pyongyang by obtaining giant projects in exchange for siding with North Korea in international issues. Russia frequently uses its veto power in favour of North Korea when a sanction is proposed against the country.

The draft's content

The UN Security Council decided to implement new measures on Pyongyang after it carried out its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6 and rocket launch on Feb. 7.

The draft resolution agreed by US and China would require all UN member countries to inspect all cargo to and from North Korea for illegal goods.

The previous inspection policy was that countries were responsible for probing cargos if they had reasonable grounds to believe illegal cargo was being carried. 

The measure provides for a restriction on exporting coal, iron and iron ore for Pyongyang and banning vessels suspected of carrying illegal goods for North Korea from ports.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) watches a long range rocket launch into the air in North Korea, in this photo released by Kyodo February 7, 2016. [Reuters]

The draft would also prohibit sales of gold, titanium, rare earth minerals and supplying aviation fuel to North Korea on the purpose of preventing Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

One diplomat said there had been minor changes to the text, though he offered no details.

The draft would strengthen UN arms embargo on Pyongyang by prohibiting all weapons imports and exports.

The draft resolution blacklists 17 individuals and 12 institutions including North Korea's National Aerospace Development Agency (NADA) and its intelligence agency, the Reconnaissance General Bureau.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power told reporters the new measures, if accepted, would be "the strongest set of sanctions imposed by the Security Council in more than two decades."

The UN Security Council has imposed four sanctions on North Korea since 2006 because of its nuclear tests and rockets launches.

TRTWorld and agencies