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article imageUS seeks to cut off oil to North Korea, blacklist Kim Jong-Un

By Carole LANDRY (AFP)     Sep 6, 2017 in World

The United States on Wednesday asked the UN Security Council to slap an oil embargo on North Korea and freeze the assets of leader Kim Jong-Un, in response to Pyongyang's sixth and most powerful nuclear test.

A US-drafted resolution obtained by AFP also called for banning textile exports and ending payments made to North Korean laborers sent abroad, further depriving the regime of revenue to pursue its military programs.

The United States circulated the proposed resolution to the 14 other council members two days after Ambassador Nikki Haley called for the "strongest possible measures" to be imposed on North Korea.

Haley said the United States was seeking a vote on the new sanctions on Monday, but it remained an open question whether Russia and China, which have veto power at the council, would back the tough measures.

The draft text takes aim directly at North Korea's leadership with a freeze on leader Kim's assets as well as those of the ruling Worker's Party of Korea and the government of North Korea.

Kim would be added to a UN sanctions blacklist that would subject him to a global travel ban, along with four other senior North Korean officials, according to the draft.

The state-owned Air Koryo airline would be hit with an assets freeze, as would the Korean People's Army, the ruling party's central military commission and seven other government or party departments.

All countries would be authorized to seize and inspect North Korean cargo vessels on the UN sanctions list, according to the 13-page document. An annex adds the names of nine ships to the blacklist.

- Will China, Russia support sanctions? -

North Korea on Sunday triggered global alarm when it detonated what it described as a hydrogen bomb designed for a long-range missile, which was followed by signs that Pyongyang was preparing a new missile launch.

The United States presented the new raft of measures after President Donald Trump spoke by phone with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and told him that military action against North Korea was not his "first choice."

China, North Korea's main ally and trading partner, and Russia argue that sanctions alone will not resolve the North Korea crisis and are calling for talks with Pyongyang.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia has said a vote on Monday on the sanctions was "a little premature" and warned that any new measure must not worsen the humanitarian crisis in North Korea.

Experts say a ban on oil supplies would be devastating for ordinary North Koreans.

"People will be forced to walk or not move at all, and to push buses instead of riding in them," said a report by the Nautilus Institute think tank. "There will be less light in households due to less kerosene."

The ban will lead to more deforestation, the report said, as North Koreans will be forced to cut down trees to produce charcoal, leading to "more erosion, floods and more famine" in the already impoverished country.

Kim's regime would immediately restrict supplies to private citizens, it added, and a ban would have "little or no immediate impact" on the North's army or its missile and nuclear programs.

More about NKorea, Missile, Military, Un, US
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