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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Aug. 8)

2017/08/08 08:16

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New UN resolution

The United Nations Security Council has unanimously approved new tough sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear and missile programs.

Resolution 2371 bans the exports of coal, iron and iron ore, lead and lead ore as well as fish and seafood products by the reclusive country. The resolution also prevents the North from increasing the number of workers it sends abroad.

The measure prohibits all new joint ventures with North Korean companies and added nine North Korean ventures and four entities, including its main foreign exchange bank, to the U.S. sanctions blacklist.

The resolution, which U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley called "the most stringent set of sanctions on any country in a generation," primarily aims at stemming the flow of hard currency to the cash-starved state. The sanctions could cost Pyongyang about $1 billion a year, nearly one third of its annual exports.

But it's doubtful if the sanctions, which came following North Korea's test-firing of two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July, will pressure the reclusive state into negotiations. More than anything, the resolution fails to cut oil deliveries to the North, which would have dealt a serious blow to the North Korean economy.

Despite a string of sanctions, the recalcitrant regime in Pyongyang has not backed off from its resolve to develop its nuclear and missile programs. The North reportedly rejected Seoul's offer of talks during a rare exchange between their foreign ministers on the sidelines of a regional security forum in Manila, Sunday.

Pundits say Pyongyang could fire a new intercontinental ballistic missile or conduct a sixth nuclear test soon in defiance of the latest U.N. resolution.

But North Korea must face up to the reality. The international community is firmly united in opposing the North's emergence as a nuclear state. That China and Russia have joined the latest resolution shows that even these two countries' patience is wearing thin. North Korea's continuing provocations will deepen its international isolation. The North should be aware that it has nothing to gain from its anachronistic nuclear and missile tests.

The success or failure of the latest resolution will rest with China, which accounts for 90 percent of all trade with North Korea. China has resisted America's strong push to cut off oil deliveries, arguing that dialogue with North Korea is the only way to persuade Pyongyang to halt its missile programs. So the most important thing is to ensure that the sanctions will be enforced fully.

The latest resolution will be hardly effective in restraining the North again unless China enforces it faithfully. It's long overdue for the international community to join forces to discourage the North's nuclear and missile ambitions.