China pressed North Korea on Sunday to halt its missile and nuclear tests, saying Pyongyang should not “provoke international society’s goodwill.”
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in a blunt show of support for new United Nations sanctions against North Korea, delivered Beijing’s warning to his North Korean counterpart Ri Yong Ho on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ministerial meetings in Manila.
The United States cautiously welcomed China’s newfound support of sanctions against North Korea, but said that it would closely monitor China’s compliance with the penalties intended to deprive North Korea of $1 billion a year to fuel its illicit nuclear and ballistic missile program.
China needs to step up
Susan Thornton, the top U.S. diplomat for Asia, told reporters that in the past China, North Korea’s economic lifeline, has supported efforts to curb Pyongyang’s weapons development, but then slacked off.
“We want to make sure China is continuing to implement fully the sanctions regime” Thornton said, “not this kind of episodic back and forth that we’ve seen.”
In a Twitter comment, U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed that China and Russia had joined the U.S. in the unanimous U.N. Security Council vote for the sanctions targeting North Korean sales of coal, iron and iron ore, lead and lead ore, and seafood.
“Very big financial impact!” Trump said.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said of the U.N. vote, “It was a good outcome.”
Wang said he advised North Korea to take a “double suspension” approach to easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, an approach calling for the suspension of North Korea’s nuclear tests and the suspension of joint military drills by the U.S. and South Korea.
But Thornton said the U.S. is not considering ending its periodic training exercises with Seoul. She said Washington rejects any “moral equivalency” implied in linking the drills with North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests. Arms experts say that North Korea’s latest intercontinental missile test showed that Pyongyang might be able to strike much of the U.S. mainland.
North Korea’s Ri did not make any public statements in Manila. However, the ruling party’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in a commentary that the U.S. had ignored the warning the North sent with its missile tests and was pursuing “desperate efforts” with the latest United Nations sanctions.
“Now the U.S. mainland is on the crossroads of life and death,” the commentary warned.
The U.N. sanctions are in response to North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile launches July 3 and 28. The provisions effectively deny Pyongyang of one-third of its annual $3 billion in export revenue.
‘Growing more dangerous’
UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said the U.S. is “taking and will continue to take prudent defensive measures to protect ourselves and our allies” from the threat posed by North Korea, which she said is “rapidly growing more dangerous.”
In two council resolutions adopted in March and November of last year, the council imposed export caps on coal, which is North Korea’s single largest export.
“In this resolution, there is no cap, there is no allowable coal, all coal exports will stop, will be banned from export from North Korea,” a U.N. Security Council council diplomat told VOA.
By removing that cap, the diplomat said North Korea would immediately lose $400 million a year in export revenue.
Guest workers limited
The resolution also prohibits countries from accepting additional guest workers from North Korea. Pyongyang is notorious for sending its citizens to other countries to work and then confiscating much or all of their salaries, effectively making them slave labor.
The resolution also tightens the enforcement of existing sanctions. The council has imposed several rounds of increasingly tougher targeted sanctions on North Korea since 2006 for its nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches.
In addition to the sanctions, the resolution designates nine North Korean individuals and four entities for asset freezes and travel bans.