The United Nations Security Council has unanimously approved a new set of sanctions against North Korea in response to its nuclear and missile programs. This is significant as both Russia and China voted for the sanctions, rather than vetoing them or abstaining from the vote. In order to get this unanimity, the United States had to remove provisions which would have blocked all oil imports into North Korea as well as provided for stronger naval inspections of ships entering or leaving North Korea.
However, the new sanctions do have some teeth. They reduce oil imports into the country by 30%, ban all natural gas imports, prohibit the export of textiles (worth $800 million), eliminate work authorization for North Korean nationals (worth $500 million), ban joint ventures with the country or its nationals, and allow for inspection of ships (with the consent of the ship’s flag state). It also imposes travel bans on certain individuals and freezes their financial assets.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said that the addition of this set of sanctions on top of previous sanctions means that 90% of North Korean exports are now banned.
The hope is that North Korea can be encouraged to stop its nuclear and missile testing programs through the use of these latest set of sanctions. However, based on past history this may be a forlorn hope. Since the country began weapons testing in 2006, sixteen resolutions have been passed by the U.N. Security Council condemning North Korea and imposing sanctions against the country.