The United Nations just passed the harshest sanctions package it’s ever adopted against North Korea after the country conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test last week.
But the US only managed to push the sanctions through after dropping some key measures — like a total ban on shipments of oil into North Korea — in an effort to get China and Russia on board.
Both of those countries are concerned about North Korea’s nuclear program, but they’re also worried that if the world leans too hard on the country it could act rashly or become unstable, potentially creating a refugee or security crisis on their borders. Since both countries have veto power over UN Security Council resolutions, their buy-in is essential.
And so the sanctions that passed unanimously through the Security Council on Monday evening represented a compromise between the US position and China and Russia’s. They were undeniably tough, but not crippling for Pyongyang.
Among other things, the new sanctions:
- Ban all North Korean textile exports
- Cut off more than 55 percent of refined petroleum products such as gasoline and fuel going to North Korea
- Cap shipments of crude oil into North Korea at current levels
- Ban countries from hiring new North Korean workers
- Authorize new measures for cracking down on North Korea’s maritime smuggling
- Place new restrictions on North Korean government organizations like the Central Military Commission and the Propaganda and Agitation Department
Combined, the sanctions are designed to take a $1.3 billion chunk out of Pyongyang’s revenues — a serious blow to the North’s economy and its ability to pursue its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.