What's In Blue

Adoption of Resolution on the DPRK with New Sanctions Designations

This afternoon, the Council is expected to adopt a resolution on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) that will add 14 individuals and four entities to the 1718 consolidated sanctions list. As is normally the case for Council decisions on the DPRK, the draft was first negotiated between China and the US and was only circulated to all fifteen Council members yesterday afternoon, when it was also put in blue by the US, which is the penholder.

It seems elected members only found out on Wednesday (31 May) that the US was about to table a resolution and no meeting has been held to formally present the draft and provide a more detailed explanation for the designations. The draft was not placed under silence procedure ahead of being put in blue. Members therefore did not have an opportunity to provide inputs to the draft.

However, members are generally supportive of taking further measures in response to the growing threat posed by the DPRK’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, and appear to welcome the proposed measures. It is seen as significant that China is willing to take action against Pyongyang at the same time as it is continuing to criticise the deployment in the Republic of Korea of the US anti-missile system referred to as THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system) and to emphasise the importance of dialogue and engagement with the DPRK.

It has been known for some time that the US and China were discussing a new resolution that would impose additional sanctions on the DPRK in response to the recent series of ballistic missile launches. However, it has been unclear how much progress was being made and to what extent China was willing to engage in substantive negotiations on the new elements proposed by the US, which reportedly included measures such as restrictions on the DPRK crude oil supply and cutting off the DPRK’s revenues from workers abroad. It has also been widely understood that China would be unwilling to move towards adoption of a new resolution in the absence of a major new violation on the part of the DPRK such as a nuclear test or an intercontinental ballistic missile launch.

Indeed, the draft resolution which is now in blue does not include any new sanctions measures, but is narrowly focused on the designation of additional individuals and entities as subject to the targeted measures under the DPRK sanctions regime. The draft contains one annex with the list of the 14 individuals who are subject to the travel ban and asset freeze measures under the DPRK sanctions regime. A second annex lists the four entities that are subject to the asset freeze measures. It seems the US had initially proposed a longer list to the Chinese that was then whittled down during the course of negotiations.

In addition to the new listings, the draft condemns “in the strongest terms” the series of ballistic missile launches and other prohibited activities conducted by the DPRK in “flagrant disregard” of relevant Council resolutions since 9 September 2016, which is when it conducted its latest nuclear test. So far this year, the DPRK has already conducted nine ballistic missile tests, most recently on 29 May, demonstrating several significant technological advances. In response, Council members have issued seven press statements, the last one on 22 May (SC/12831), condemning the DPRK’s actions and expressing its readiness to take further significant measures, including sanctions.

The draft resolution reiterates the Council’s previous decisions that the DPRK shall abandon all nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction as well as its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes “in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner”. It also reiterates the importance of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and reducing tensions; expresses the Council’s commitment to a political solution; and welcomes efforts to resolve the situation through dialogue.

Looking ahead, discussions are likely to continue in the 1718 DPRK Sanctions Committee on how to further enhance sanctions implementation. The latest Council press statement issued on 22 May “strongly urged” all members states to fully and comprehensively implement the sanctions measures in an expeditious and serious manner, particularly the comprehensive measures contained in resolutions 2321 and 2270, and for the first time specifically called on the Committee to redouble its efforts to improve global implementation “by implementing the relevant feasible recommendations of the Panel of Experts as soon as possible.” Yesterday (1 June) the Committee announced in a press release (SC/12850) that it had amended the entries for four individuals on the sanctions list.

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