Balance of Power: U.S.-China Divide on Full Display at UN Today

U.S. Wants Vote on Harsher N. Korea Sanctions

A meeting today of the United Nations Security Council to discuss further sanctions on North Korea will put the differences between the U.S. and China on handling the regime on stark display.

U.S. envoy Nikki Haley has been pushing hard for a vote to cut off Kim Jong Un’s lifeline of oil, most of which comes from neighboring China. But with Beijing worried about squeezing North Korea so hard it collapses -- and Russia saying publicly more sanctions won’t work -- Haley may have to compromise.

China and the U.S. both are worried about Kim’s nuclear ambitions, and want him to halt his provocations. But as the UN wrangling shows, they fundamentally disagree on the urgency of the situation and the best way to rein him in. President Donald Trump’s threats to use military force against Pyongyang have caused unease in Beijing, which favors a push for talks.

That means the U.S. may have to settle for a watered-down deal involving a cap on oil sales rather than a ban. Even so, that would probably represent something of a win: The worst outcome for Haley is no agreement at all.

Haley at a Security Council meeting in April.
Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images North America

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Photographer: Bloomberg/Bloomberg

— With assistance by Alan Crawford

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