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US reiterates commitment to NK sanctions amid China and Russia’s push to ease them

Debates at the UN Security Council Summit in 2017 (123rf)
Debates at the UN Security Council Summit in 2017 (123rf)
The US said it remains committed to imposing UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea aimed at limiting its nuclear and ballistic missile program, amid Beijing and Moscow’s push to ease sanctions on the regime. 

“We do remain committed to the sanctions regime,” Ned Price, the spokesperson for the US State Department, said during a daily press briefing on Thursday (US time). “We call on all UN members to fulfill their sanctions obligations under existing UN Security Council resolutions to limit the DPRK’s ability to acquire resources and technology needed to advance its threatening and unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs.”

DPRK stands for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The remarks come after China and Russia have reportedly circulated a draft resolution to the council members proposing to lift some bans, including Pyongyang’s exports of seafood and textiles, and end a cap on imports of refined petroleum. The two countries said they want to relax sanctions “with the intent of enhancing the livelihood of the civilian population” in North Korea. 

The 15-member UNSC first imposed sanctions on North Korea in 2006 after its first nuclear test and made them stricter in response to each weapons test Pyongyang conducted. Despite sweeping sanctions, the North has continued to grow its nuclear and missile program. 

Beijing and Moscow, two traditionally close allies of the North, circulated similar resolution in 2019, but drew strong opposition from Western countries and was never formally put to council’s vote. 

South Korea’s Unification Ministry on Friday said it is aware of Beijing and Moscow’s sanctions easing proposal and that it will continue close communication with key council members. 

“The government will continue to monitor the UNSC and continue to closely communicate with the US and other key members of the council on how to deal with the situation on the Korean Peninsula,” said Cha Duck-chul, the ministry’s deputy spokesman. 

Meanwhile, Price repeated Washington’s position that it continues to seek diplomacy in dealing with the North and that it harbors no hostile intent toward the regime. 

“We continue to seek sustained and serious diplomacy with the DPRK. We call on Pyongyang to refrain from provocations and to engage in discussions. Our goal, as we have said on any number of occasions, remains the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” he said. “We have no hostile intent towards the DPRK. Our intent is to engage in sustained, constructive diplomacy, including with the DPRK.”

By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)
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