China, Russia urge the UN Security Council to end a series of sanctions against North Korea, ranging from the export of seafood and textiles to capping imports of refined petroleum products and the ban for its citizens to work abroad and to send their income home.
A draft resolution distributed to council members and obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday highlights North Korea’s economic woes and says these and other sanctions should be lifted “in an effort to improve the livelihoods of the civilian population “.
The Security Council initially imposed sanctions on North Korea after its first nuclear test in 2006 and made them increasingly severe in response to new nuclear tests and an increasingly sophisticated ballistic missile program. Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said in 2018 that the sanctions cut all North Korean exports and 90% of its trade and dissolved the pool of workers that North Korea sent to the country. foreigner to earn hard currency.
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The draft resolution develops a similar resolution that Russia and China circulated in December 2019. It encountered opposition from Western countries when it was discussed and was never formally presented to the council for a vote.
Several UN diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because the draft has not been made public, said it would likely face a similar bitter struggle today, pointing to continued violations by the North Korea UN sanctions.
The US mission to the United Nations said North Korea had failed to comply with sanctions on its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and that the Biden administration “remained committed to the sanctions regime” and called on all member states to apply the measures.
On October 19, North Korea fired a newly developed ballistic missile from a submarine during its fifth round of weapons tests in recent weeks, all of which violated UN sanctions. It was the North’s first underwater test since October 2019 and the most publicized test since President Joe Biden took office in January.
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The China-Russia draft resolution makes no mention of missile testing. Instead, he notes that the North has refrained from nuclear testing since September 2017, maintained a moratorium on further nuclear testing and mid-range and intercontinental missile test launches from the 21st. April 2018, and has taken additional denuclearization measures since.
The proposed resolution emphasizes “the need to respect the legitimate security concerns of the DPRK and to ensure the welfare, inherent dignity and rights of people in the DPRK”, using the initials of the official name of North Korea , the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. He reaffirms that the UN resolutions “are not intended to have negative humanitarian consequences” and notes “the serious impact of the sanctions and the COVID-19 pandemic” in the country.
North Korea is struggling to cope with soaring commodity prices and shortages of medicines and other essential supplies that have accelerated the spread of water-borne illnesses such as typhoid fever. The country has yet to report any cases of the coronavirus, although experts have questioned its claim of a perfect record.
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The China-Russia project calls on all UN member countries to step up efforts to provide humanitarian assistance, “including, but not limited to, food, fertilizer and medical supplies,” and to provide the goods, materials, technology and financial services that North Korea needs to fight COVID-19, improve livelihoods and grow the economy.
The draft resolution would lift North Korea’s ban on importing industrial machinery and transport vehicles used to build infrastructure that cannot be diverted to the country’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
The long list of construction and humanitarian items that would be exempt from sanctions include bulldozers and fire-fighting vehicles; materials for railways and traffic control; air conditioners and radiators for heating; parts of iron or steel for roofs and windows; screws and bolts; sewing needles and vacuum cleaners; kitchen utensils and equipment; agricultural equipment, bicycles and fire extinguishers.
Politically, the China-Russia project hailed “the positive results” of talks between the DPRK and South Korea and between former President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Kim with Trump in Hanoi in February 2019, negotiations broke down after the United States rejected North Korean demands for general sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of the North’s nuclear capabilities.
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The proposed resolution calls on the United States and the DPRK to resume dialogue aimed at achieving lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. He calls on all parties to consider taking further steps to reduce military tensions and the risks of military confrontation, including adopting a declaration or peace treaty ending the 1950-1953 Korean War. The war ended with an armistice, leaving the peninsula technically in a state of war.
South Korea, which has expressed a desire to engage with the North within the confines of UN sanctions, did not immediately respond to proposals by China and Russia to lift sanctions against the North.
During a period of diplomacy in 2018, South Korean President Moon Jae-in met the North Korean leader three times and pledged to resume inter-Korean economic cooperation to the extent possible, expressing optimism as to the end of the sanctions and authorizing such projects.
But North Korea halted cooperation with South Korea as diplomacy with the Trump administration derailed in 2019.
© 2021 The Canadian Press