UN May Finally Be Able To Hit North Korea Where It Hurts

People watch a TV news program reporting North Korea's nuclear test at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul South Korea

The draft text was given to all 15 Security Council members on Friday.

The U.S. and other veto-wielding permanent council members — Russia, China, Britain and France — have been negotiating the new sanctions for months in response to North Korea's september 9 nuclear test.

Coal is particularly important to the economic health of North Korea because it is one of its only sources of hard currency and its largest single export item. US officials said North Korean coal constitutes a very small portion of Chinese coal consumption and can be easily replaced by other sources.

The proposed new sanctions also would ban export of certain metals - copper, nickel, silver and zinc - which bring in more than $100 million a year for the regime.

"The sanction resolutions of the U.N. Security Council are illegal criminal documents", Pang Kwang Hyok, vice director of the department of worldwide organizations at the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said.

Most significantly, if adopted, the resolution will target North Korea's coal export industry, which according to global trade figures is expected to generate more than $1 billion in revenue this year - much of it believed to be used to finance its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

On March 2, the UNSC slapped its toughest-ever sanctions on the North in response to Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests early this year.

The United Nations Security Council is set to vote on Wednesday to impose new sanctions on North Korea for its fifth and largest nuclear test, slashing Pyongyang's export earnings by some $800 million, diplomats said on Monday. "We do note that our action will be felt and will impede the DPRK [North Korea] regime's ability to continue these program". After a fall in exports following the announcement of the March sanctions, North Korean exports of coal rose again and 2016 totals are expected to exceed those for previous year, they said.

"We do not claim that this resolution is going to cause North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program but this resolution would make it significantly more hard", the diplomat emphasized.

President-elect Donald Trump has spoken repeatedly of the need to "do more" about North Korea, and analysts are saying this will likely run into a major obstacle, as one of his other major goals has been to start a trade war with China.

The sanctions would also ban North Korea's exports of non-ferrous metals and sanction 11 government officials as well as 10 entities linked to the country's nuclear weapons programme.

China has always been conscientious about enforcing United Nations resolutions, and all countries have an obligation to do so, he added.

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