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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.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley on Wednesday called for a complete crude oil embargo and for member states to cut off all trade with the DPRK in response to its most recent ballistic missile test.
Speaking at an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in New York, Haley strongly condemned North Korea’s recent launch of the new Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
The meeting was the 13th by the UNSC discussing North Korea this year and was held hours after Pyongyang announced the successful launch of what it claims is a missile capable of striking the “entire” U.S. mainland.
The test saw North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declare that the DPRK has now “finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force, the cause of building a rocket power.”
In her statement, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN strongly condemned the North Korean missile launch and called for what could represent some of the strongest measures taken so far against the country.
“Today, we call on all nations to cut off all ties with North Korea,” Haley said. “In addition to fully implementing all UN sanctions, all countries should sever diplomatic relations with North Korea and limit military, scientific or technical cooperation.”
“They must also cut off trade with the regime by cutting off all imports and exports and expelling all North Korean workers,” she added.
The world should continue to treat North Korea as an “international pariah,” Haley said, suggesting member states rescind Pyongyang’s “UN rights and privileges… including its voting powers” as one option.
Describing oil as the “main driver” of North Korea’s nuclear production, Haley also called for an end to deliveries of crude oil to the country – with China being identified as its main supplier.
“We need China to do more,” she said.
President Trump spoke over the phone with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday, she said, with the President having reportedly asked Xi to end oil exports to the DPRK.
“We now turn to President Xi… we believe he has the opportunity to do the right thing for the benefit of all countries,” she said. “China must show leadership and follow through.”
“China can do this on its own or we can take the oil situation into our own hands,” she added.
And in comments that echoed Trump’s previous statements, Haley said that the U.S. does not want a war on the peninsula but that if a conflict did break out, “the North Korea regime would be utterly destroyed.”
China also voiced its condemnation of the North Korean missile test and reiterated its proposal for a freeze for freeze deal, which would see Pyongyang halt missile and nuclear tests in return for the freeze of the U.S. and South Korean joint military exercises on the peninsula.
China’s representative at the UN Liu Jieyi called for dialogue between the parties and lamented what he described a missed opportunity for progress – likely a reference to a recent two and a half month pause in North Korean missile tests.
He also took an apparent swipe at the UN Panel of Experts (PoE) tasked with monitoring sanctions implementation.
“On the DPRK sanctions committee, China believes that the committee’s work should be conducive to the realization of denuclearisation of the peninsula, the maintenance of peace and stability on the peninsula and the promotion of dialogue,” Liu said.
“The Panel of Experts must act in strict compliance of this mandate and conduct its work on the principle of objectivity and impartiality and not on the basis of unsubstantiated evidence.”
Russia’s representative Vasily Nebenzia, in turn, expressed skepticism about the efficacity of sanctions.
“Sanctions against Pyongyang are simply an instrument aimed at involving it in constructive negotiations and should not be used to strangle the DPRK economically or to intentionally worsen the humanitarian situation,” he said.
“This, in particular, pertains to the illegal unilateral restrictions that strike at the civilian sectors that have no link to the missile and nuclear programs of the country.”
While condemning the DPRK, the Russian ambassador spent the majority of his allotted time criticising the U.S. for what he called “hostile moves” against North Korea.
“Over the past two and half months and its allies seem to have tried the patience of Pyongyang with its activities,” – referencing “unplanned” military maneuvers and recent unilateral sanctions.
“Against the backdrop of the calm and quiet by Pyongyang of these hostile moves against the DPRK force us to really think about the sincerity of the statements by Washington about its preference for peaceful means resolving the crisis,” he said.
All member states attending condemned the DPRK and called for a peaceful resolution to the issue.
Also repeatedly referenced was the need to monitor and avoid negative humanitarian consequences of the UNSC Resolutions.
“The responsibility to uphold the wellbeing of its people undisputedly falls on the government of the DPRK,” Swedish Ambassador to the UN Olof Skoog said, referencing the regime’s choice to pursue nuclear weapons and not address human rights violations.
However, he voiced humanitarian concerns regarding UNSC resolutions.
“The measures adopted by the council were never intended to have a negative effect on humanitarian assistance, therefore recent reports that the sanctions are having adverse consequences and on humanitarian organization’s ability to respond to these urgent humanitarian needs are deeply concerning,” he added.
No new sanctions resolutions were adopted by the UNSC, which held its meeting two hours after it was scheduled due to ongoing consultations prior to the event.
Edited by Oliver Hotham