U.N. Security Council Imposes Punishing New Sanctions on North Korea
The measure’s unanimous approval was a diplomatic victory for the Trump administration and partly reflected growing impatience with North Korea by China, which historically has called relations between them as “close as lips and teeth.”
President Trump has repeatedly cajoled China to exert more pressure on North Korea over its nuclear belligerence.
Whether Mr. Trump’s badgering played any role in China’s support for the resolution is unclear. But its willingness to enforce the resolution’s provisions will be critical to its effectiveness.
China’s ambassador to the United Nations, Liu Jieyi, hinted at his country’s vexation with North Korea in his Security Council remarks after the vote. He urged the North Korean authorities to “cease taking actions that might further escalate tensions.”
But Mr. Liu also criticized the United States, calling for the dismantlement of a missile defense system it has begun installing in South Korea, which China also regards as counterproductive.
Since 2006, North Korea has defied a half-dozen Security Council resolutions over its nuclear and missile development, which North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, has called a necessary, just response to military threats by the United States and South Korea.
The latest resolution was a direct reaction to two North Korean tests last month of intercontinental ballistic missiles that appeared capable of reaching the continental United States.
Under the resolution’s provisions, all exports of North Korean coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood will be prohibited. The resolution also imposes new restrictions on North Korea’s Foreign Trade Bank and bans the country from increasing the number of workers it sends abroad.
Those workers’ earnings are an important source of foreign revenue for Mr. Kim’s cash-starved autocracy. Human rights advocates have criticized his exploitation of their toil as slave labor.
The Security Council vote was held against the backdrop of mixed signals by the Trump administration on how to deal with North Korea, which has remained in a suspended state of war with the United States since the Korean War armistice in 1953.
Even as Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson signaled recently that the United States did not want to pick a fight with Mr. Kim and was not interested in regime change, the American military tested an intercontinental ballistic missile and conducted military drills with South Korea.
On Saturday, Mr. Tillerson arrived in the Philippines for a meeting with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. His counterparts from North and South Korea will also attend.
While it appeared unlikely that Mr. Tillerson would meet with Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho of North Korea, there was a possibility that Mr. Ri would meet with South Korea’s new foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha.
If an opportunity “naturally occurs, we should talk,” Ms. Kang said on Saturday when she arrived in Manila, news agencies reported.