Fresh UN sanctions slash North Korean coal revenue

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Other measures in the new resolution include requiring U.N. member nations to reduce the number of officials at North Korea's foreign missions and limit the number of bank accounts to one per North Korean diplomatic mission and one per diplomat in an effort to prevent them from involvement in illicit-money making activity.

According to the Global Trade Atlas, China is on track to import almost $1 billion worth of coal from North Korea in 2016 despite a previous sanctions regime.

The new measures are the product of US lobbying of China over the issue, including a veiled threat that the United States would take unilateral action against Chinese companies doing illegal business with the North. Coal is estimated to make up a third of North Korea's economy and is one of its only sources of hard currency. The earlier resolution also banned countries from buying North Korean coal but exempted "livelihood" purchases. The resolution drawn by the nations require North Korea to "abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs".

The country also conducted underground nuclear tests respectively in 2006, 2009 and 2013.

It imposed additional restrictions on the DPRK's ability to generate revenue and access the worldwide financial system, by banning the DPRK from generating revenue by using its property overseas, prohibiting public and private support for trade with the DPRK, such as export credits, guarantees and insurance. China backed the fresh sanctions adopted on 30 November. China is the only buyer of its coal, according to United States officials. Such imports dipped for a few months after the United Nations passed a March resolution that sought to curb North Korean exports of coal, iron and iron ore, but have recovered in recent months.

According to the resolution, total exports of coal from the DPRK to all Member States should not exceed $400 million or 7.5 million metric tonnes annually, whichever is lower, beginning January 1, 2017.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the adoption of the new sanctions against North Korea - also known as Democratic People's Republic of Korea - and described it as the "toughest and most comprehensive sanctions regime ever" against the country.

The resolution warned the North could have its rights and privileges as a United Nations member state suspended if it continues to defy its obligations. Reacting to the Council's vote, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the resolution "sends an unequivocal message that the DPRK must cease further provocative actions and comply fully with its global obligations". But he warned that the passage alone would be insufficient.

"The bigger uncertainty is what posture Mr. Trump will take toward North Korea and Mr. Kim - and, by extension, toward Beijing", The Times noted.

"If you look at North Korea, this guy, I mean, he's like a maniac, OK?"

But experts say North Korea pocketed large sums of cash when coal and other commodity prices spiked between 2007 and 2010, and is likely still drawing on those reserves.

United States officials have warned for months that the North's nuclear capabilities have increased sharply.

The UN Security Council adopted the first resolution on North Korea in 1993.

The sanctions, they said, are aimed at cutting North Korea's annual export revenue by a quarter.

At the Radisson Blu Hotel on Tuesday, South Korean Ambassador to Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Liberia, Ambassador Nuh Kyu-duk called on the government of Sierra Leone to help ensure stiffer measures against North Korea in their use of nuclear weapons.

"China urges the parties concerned to effectively implement the relevant provisions the council resolution in its entirety", he added. Even if statistics showed increased imports, the trade was legal under the livelihood exemption, the Foreign Ministry said.