Trump Admin Gets UN Security Council to Hammer North Korea With New Sanctions (VIDEO)

RETRANSMISSION TO CORRECT SPELLING TO LIU JIEYI - American Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, right, speaks to Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations Liu Jieyi before a Security Council vote on a new sanctions resolution that would increase economic pressure on North Korea to return to negotiations on its missile program, Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017 at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Thank you, Ambassador Haley and President Trump.

Yesterday, by unanimous vote, the UN Security Council approved a US drafted resolution that dramatically increases sanctions on North Korea:

The resolution, intended to press North Korea to renounce its nuclear militarization, could reduce the isolated country’s already meager annual export revenue by $1 billion, or about a third of its current total.

Ambassador Nikki R. Haley of the United States, which introduced the resolution, said its adoption by all 15 Council members signified what she called “a strong, united step toward holding North Korea accountable for its behavior.”

Ms. Haley described the new penalties, which the United States painstakingly negotiated with China, North Korea’s most important trading partner, as “the most stringent set of sanctions on any country in a generation.” She also said they would give North Korea’s leaders “a taste of the deprivation they have chosen to inflict on the North Korean people.”

Before she walked into the Security Council chambers for the vote, Ms. Haley stopped and told reporters, “All this ICBM and nuclear irresponsibility has to stop.”

The New York Times article, under the headline “U.N. Security Council Imposes Punishing New Sanctions on North Korea”, summarizes it this way:

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.”

It’s always about the details, so what do the sanctions do, exactly?

The centerpiece is a ban on North Korea exports of coal, iron, lead and seafood products — and a ban on all countries importing these products, estimated to be worth over $1 billion in hard currency.

Keep in mind that North Korea’s total hard currency earnings is $3 billion.

According to a Security Council diplomat, coal has been North Korea’s largest export, earning $1.2 billion last year which was then restricted by the Security Council in November to a maximum $400 million. This year, Pyongyang was estimated to earn $251 million from iron and iron ore exports, $113 million from lead and lead ore exports, and $295 million from fish and seafood exports, the diplomat said.

The resolution also bans countries from giving any additional permits to North Korean laborers — another source of money for Kim Jong Un’s regime. And it prohibits all new joint ventures with North Korean companies and bans new foreign investment in existing ones.

It adds nine North Koreans, mainly officials or representatives of companies and banks, to the U.N. sanctions blacklist, banning their travel and freezing their assets. It also imposes an asset freeze on two companies and two banks.

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It also gives the committee a green light to designate specific vessels that are breaking sanctions from entering ports all over the world and to work with Interpol to enforce travel bans on North Koreans on the sanctions blacklist.

While this was playing out, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was meeting and Rex Tillerson was pressing a generally receptive audience to increase pressure on North Korea.

The key takeaways are:

Sanctions are only as good as the enforcement regime. The Trump administration, thus far, has elected to name violators rather than wink at violations. So while there will he holes in the sanctions program, there is a very good chance that the violators will be punished.

Taking away one-third of North Korea’s foreign exchange is a very tough step. This will hit the North Korean elites in a way they have not experienced in the past. What we don’t know is if this will have a moderating influence on Kim Jong Un and his rocket hobby.

China will tend to backslide on enforcing sanctions but China has concerns about US action aainst Chinese companies violating the sanctions and it has concerns about US trade actions. These two fears, combined with a realization that Kim Jong Un may succeed in provoking a regional war, may make China more supportive this time around.

No matter how you cut it, this was a huge victory for President Trump’s foreign policy team. Convincing Russia and China to support this increase in sanctions is significant and it shows that a lot of the mewling from the foreign policy establishment is simply sour grapes.