New UN sanctions to cut North Korea's access to fuel and oil

Resolution 2397 was passed unanimously by the Security Council

New UN sanctions to cut North Korea's access to fuel and oil

The Security Council unanimously adopts resolution 2397, condemning the ballistic missile launch conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in November | Image: UN Photo/Manuel Elias

The United Nations Security Council has imposed tough new sanctions on North Korea in response to its latest ballistic missile test on November 29th.

The move will restrict oil supplies which are vital for Pyongyang's missile and nuclear programs.

The council unanimously adopted a US-drafted resolution by 15-0.

It restricts oil, critical imports and all remaining major exports.

UN Security Council Resolution 2397 reduces the annual cap on refined petroleum exports by 75%, to allow a maximum of 500,000 barrels per year to North Korea.

It also strengthens a freeze on crude oil by establishing a yearly limit of four million barrels.

The resolution also provides additional tools to crack down on smuggling and sanctions evasion - including a new requirement for countries to seize and impound ships caught smuggling illicit items including oil and coal.

And it requires countries to expel all North Korean workers earning income abroad no later than the end of 2019.

It also bans North Korea from importing heavy machinery, industrial equipment, and transportation vehicles - which the US says constituted about 30% of North Korea's 2016 imports

Exemptions from this include spare parts for civilian passenger aircraft for safety reasons.

The US says the new sanctions impose measures "aimed at the North Korean regime and the elite by targeting industrial and other major economic activities while preventing North Korea from exporting food and agricultural products."

"(The resolution) provides a number of exemptions aimed at protecting the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the North Korean people and not impeding the work of diplomatic and consular missions operating in North Korea", the US Mission to the UN says in a statement.

The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, says the sanctions ramp up the pressure on North Korea.

"For the international community, this an unprecedented challenge from a defiant state - so we have leveled an unprecedented response.

"This resolution ratchets up the pressure on North Korea even further.

"And should the North Korean regime conduct another nuclear or ballistic missile test, this resolution commits the Security Council to take even further action".