U.S. Readies New North Korea Sanctions for UN Security Council

  • U.S, Ambassador Samantha Power to present resolution Thursday
  • Measures seek to punish North Korea over nuclear test, rocket

The U.S. will submit a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council on Thursday seeking new sanctions to punish North Korea over its recent test of a nuclear device and the launch of a long-range rocket.

“We look forward to working with the council on a strong and comprehensive response to the DPRK’s latest series of tests aimed at advancing their nuclear weapons program,” Kurtis Cooper, acting spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the UN, said in an e-mailed statement, referring to Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The announcement came after Reuters reported that the U.S. and China -- Pyongyang’s main ally -- had reached an agreement over new sanctions. The U.S. was seeking Chinese support to curb North Korea’s access to international ports, and to further tighten restrictions on its access to the international financial system, Reuters said, citing unnamed diplomats. South Korea’s Dong-A Ilbo newspaper reported this week that sanctions could include a ban on exporting jet fuel that the North Korean air force uses.

China’s participation is essential, because it’s North Korea’s biggest trading partner and provides most of the isolated country’s energy and food. Any draft resolution would have to be approved by the Security Council, where the China, France, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S. wield veto power.

"Economic sanctions, if imposed and supported by China, could be far more effective than before," Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts Goohoon Kwon and Irene Choi wrote an e-mailed report. "Relevant parties would likely understand that the sanctions might not be strong enough to stop the nuclear ambitions of North Korea, but may opt to compromise to keep stability in the region."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met in Washington Tuesday and said they were making “significant” progress on new sanctions, without giving details. Wang also met with National Security Adviser Susan Rice, with President Barack Obama joining to "underscore his interest in building a durable, constructive, and productive U.S.-China relationship," according to a White House statement.

North Korea’s nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket launch this month prompted South Korea’s government to consider installing a U.S. missile-defense system on its soil, a move long opposed by China. The U.S., South Korea and Japan have all adopted unilateral measures against North Korea since the country launched a satellite using a long-range rocket on Feb. 7.

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