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Hamish Macdonald is an NK News contributor and has previously worked at The Korea Herald and for the Australia Centre for Independent Journalism in Sydney.
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopted a new resolution against North Korea on Wednesday in response to the country’s fourth nuclear test and recent satellite launch.
Resolution 2270 imposes significant measures on North Korea that include, among other things, restrictions on certain trade, the inclusion of new designations and the requirement that member states inspect all North Korean cargo going through their territory.
“Today’s unanimous action by the Security Council has sent a clear message that the DPRK must return to full compliance with its international obligations. The secretary-general urges the DPRK to abide by the resolution and calls upon all member states to ensure its implementation,” a statement from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon read.
Resolution 2270 is a significant enhancement of, and addition to, previous UNSC resolutions adopted against the DPRK and was described by the U.S. ambassador to the UN as a “seismic shift in the way the the council approaches DPRK proliferation concerns.”
“It recognizes at its core that in order to prevent the DPRK from continuing to advance its nuclear weapons program, the international community has to be prepared to sanction sectors beyond those directly related to the nuclear weapons program or their ballistic missile program,” Ambassador Samantha Power said at a press briefing.
The measures imposed under Resolution 2270 includes bans on the sale or transfer of coal, iron and iron ore from North Korea, should there be reason to believe and evidence that it is being used to generate revenue for its nuclear or ballistic missile programs. The measures do, however, apply a full ban on the sale or transfer of gold, titanium ore, vanadium ore and rare earth minerals from the country.
Member states are now also compelled to inspect all cargo within their territory that has originated from or is destined to North Korea. This also includes any cargo that has been transferred as a result of North Korean facilitation or that is transported by DPRK-flagged aircraft or maritime vessels.
States are also prohibited from allowing nationals and those in their territories “from leasing or chartering their flagged vessels or aircraft or providing crew services to the DPRK.”
Significantly, Resolution 2270 also restricts member states from selling or supplying North Korea with “aviation fuel, including aviation gasoline, naptha-type jet fuelo kerosene-type jet fuel, and kerosene-type rocket fuel.” This provision is subject to exemption on a case-by-case basis for certain functions including if it is for exclusively humanitarian purposes.
“These measures go beyond the traditionally activity-based sanctions to include more general restrictions on North Korean trade and finance. They represent a shift in the design of the multilateral sanctions regime on North Korea,” Andrea Berger, the deputy director for proliferation and nuclear policy at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) told NK News on Wednesday.
Financial and banking restrictions include new measures and provisions that compel member states to prevent the “operation of new branches, subsidiaries, and representative offices of DPRK banks” as well as close, within 90 days, existing branches, subsidiaries and representative offices.
“The implementation of logistical and financial restrictions in the resolution will be the most important to watch. If North Korea can continue to get its goods and funds into and out of neighboring countries such as China, they will likely continue to be able to facilitate broader international trade with little insurmountable difficulty,” Berger said.
While Power praised the passing of the resolution and the significance of the measures, she also focused on the need for Resolution 2270 to be enforced effectively in order to achieve its aims.
“While this resolution adopted today is robust, comprehensive and unyielding, to be effective it must be followed with robust comprehensive and unyielding enforcement,” Power said at the press conference, a sentiment Berger reiterated.
“Shifts in sanctions design will be irrelevant unless they are accompanied by shifts in approaches to implementation. China and Russia who are trade and finance pathways for North Korea, but who have yet to demonstrate any methodical application of the UN Security Council’s previous restrictions or vigilance requests, are particularly important in this respect,” Berger told NK News.
New designations of sanctioned entities include high level DPRK officials as well as significant national bodies such as the National Aerospace Development Association (NADA), which is responsible for what North Korea claims is its peaceful space program.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control also added to its list of designations in conjunction with the passing of Resolution 2270, and includes Hwang Pyong So, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission.