The United Nations Security Council on Monday passed new sanctions against North Korea, but refrained from imposing the harshest options the White House had proposed following a month of antagonistic military action by the regime of Kim Jong Un.
The unanimous decision to impose the new penalties follows North Korea’s recent nuclear test earlier this month ― its sixth and by far most powerful ― as well as a provocative test launch of a ballistic missile over Japan. The sanctions include capping imports of crude oil into North Korea, banning the sale of natural gas to the country and prohibiting the sale of North Korean textiles, the country’s second-biggest export, according to Reuters.
However, the penalties fall far short of those called for by the administration of President Donald Trump, which had requested a full cutoff of all oil supplies to Pyongyang, most of which are imported from China. The New York Times reports those demands were watered down following talks with Russia and China, permanent members of the Security Council that hold veto power.
“These are by far the strongest measures ever imposed on North Korea ... but we all know these steps only work if all nations implement them completely and aggressively,” Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said after the vote. “Today we are saying the world will never accept a nuclear armed North Korea. We are done trying to prod the regime to do the right thing.”
The South Korean government praised the latest vote, saying it represented a “grave” warning to Pyongyang that the international community was united its opposition to Kim’s nuclear development.
“The latest UNSC resolution represents the international community’s renewed commitment not to tolerate the North’s nuclear and missile development,” the government said in a statement obtained by Yonhap News. “It also sends a grave warning to the North Korean regime that its continued reckless provocations will only end up deepening its economic isolation and diplomatic pressure.”
North Korea has continued to provoke international ire after a notable uptick in its military program this year beginning with the country’s successful tests of two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July, which experts say are capable of reaching the mainland United States.
The U.N. Security Council has tried for more than a decade to use sanctions to rein in the country’s ambition for a nuclear weapon that could reach America. Monday’s passage represents the ninth set of penalties imposed since 2006.
The latest measures, while watered down, are significant. Textile exports brought in more than $750 million to the North Korean economy in 2016, about a quarter of its entire export revenue for the year, according to the Associated Press. The sanctions also cap refined petroleum imports at 2 million barrels per year, about a ten percent cut.
The Washington Post notes that China, Pyongyang’s prime trading partner and only real ally, has been reluctant to impose the sweeping sanctions proposed by the White House, which it fears could destabilize North Korea to the point of collapse.
Following Monday’s vote, Haley said despite the recent sanctions and an uptick in bombastic language from the Trump administration, the U.S. was still hopeful North Korea would give up its nuclear ambitions.
“North Korea has not yet passed the point of no return,” she said, according to the AP.