Big win for China as US sanctions resolution watered down considerably

A United Nations Security Council sanctions resolution targeting North Korea has been considerably watered down from its original draft in deference to China and Russia.

As the resolution was originally conceived, there would have been a total oil embargo and a ban on textile exports from the North.  But not only did China nix the idea of a total embargo on oil; it got the U.S. to relax provisions of previous sanctions on North Korea's oil and gas.

Any way you look at it, China is still running interference for Kim Jong-un.


A U.S.-drafted resolution originally calling for an oil embargo on the North, a halt to its key exports of textiles and subjecting leader Kim Jong Un to a financial and travel ban have been weakened, apparently to placate Russia and China which both have veto powers, diplomats said.

It no longer proposes blacklisting Kim and relaxes sanctions earlier proposed on oil and gas, a draft reviewed by Reuters shows. It still proposes a ban on textile exports. ...

The latest draft of the resolution reflects the challenge in imposing tough sanctions on the North by curbing its energy supply and singling out its leader for a financial and travel ban, a symbolic measure at best but one that is certain to rile Pyongyang.

It will also be a disappointment to South Korea, which has sought tough new sanctions that would be harder for Pyongyang to ignore, as it said dialogue remained on the table.

"We have been in consultations that oil has to be part of the final sanctions," South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told a news conference, saying Pyongyang was on a "reckless path".

"I do believe that whatever makes it into the final text and is adopted by consensus hopefully will have significant consequences on the economic pressure against North Korea."

There was no independent verification of the North's claim to have conducted a hydrogen bomb test, but some experts said there was enough strong evidence to suggest Pyongyang had either developed a hydrogen bomb or was getting close.

KCNA said on Sunday that Kim threw a banquet to celebrate the scientists and top military and party officials who contributed to the nuclear bomb test, topped with an art performance and a photo session with the leader himself.

There appeared to be a consensus for the oil embargo among the rest of the representatives on the Security Council, so China's objections actually work against consensus, despite the protestations to the contrary.  It shouldn't surprise us.  At every turn, the Chinese have used their influence to weaken efforts to make Kim pay for his provocative and dangerous nuclear policies.

The time is approaching when taking Chinese sensibilities regarding North Korea into account won't matter as much.  Ambassador Haley has been trying to impress on Beijing the necessity of punishing Kim for threatening the peace of the region and the world.

The Chinese have other strategic interests, including using North Korea to distract the U.S. from their efforts to militarize the South China Sea. 

What they fear almost as much as American military action against North Korea is a tidal wave of refugees crossing their border as a result of war.  Still, they refuse to use their enormous leverage on North Korea to bring them to heel.  Kim's regime could not survive without Chinese deliveries of oil and food.  Cutting off food shipments would hurt the average North Korean far more than members of the regime, so it is understandable why the Chinese would resist using food as a weapon.

Their resistance to the oil embargo is far more problematic and shows how unserious Beijing is in reining in the dangerous ambitions of Kim Jong-un.