U.N. mulls new North Korea sanctions, could vote Friday - diplomats

U.N. mulls new North Korea sanctions, could vote Friday - diplomats
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio de Oliveira Guterres attends Universal Health Coverage Forum 2017 in Tokyo, Japan December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
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By Michelle Nichols

UNITEDNATIONS (Reuters) – A U.S.-drafted United Nations Security Council resolution seeks to ban nearly 90 percent of refined petroleum product exports to North Korea and the repatriation of North Koreans working abroad, according to the text seen by Reuters on Thursday.

The draft resolution was circulated to the 15-member council on Thursday and could be voted on as early as Friday, said diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity. While it was not immediately clear how China would vote, traditionally a draft resolution on North Korea is not given to the full council until agreed by Beijing and Washington.

The United States has been negotiating with China on the draft resolution for the past week, diplomats said.

In order to pass, a resolution needs nine of the 15 Security Council members to vote in favour and no vetoes by any of the five permanent members: the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China.

The resolution is in response to North Korea’s launch of a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile on Nov. 29, which it said could reach all of the U.S. mainland and South Korea. If adopted, it would be the 10th resolution imposing new sanctions on North Korea over its missile and nuclear programs since 2006.

In September, the council put a cap of 2 million barrels a year on refined petroleum product exports to North Korea. The new draft resolution seeks to further reduce that cap to 500,000 barrels annually.

In a bid to further choke North Korea’s external sources of funding, the draft text also seeks to ban North Korean exports of food products, machinery, electrical equipment, earth and stone, including magnesite and magnesia; wood; and vessels.

The draft resolution would also ban exports to North Korea of industrial equipment, machinery, transportation vehicles, and industrial metals.

In August, the council capped the number of North Koreans working abroad at the current level. Then in September it decided that the employment of North Korean workers abroad had to be authorized by a Security Council committee.

The new draft resolution would demand the repatriation of North Koreans working abroad within 12 months.

It also seeks to allow countries to seize, inspect and freeze any vessel in their ports or territorial waters that they believe was carrying banned cargo or involved in prohibited activities.

If adopted, the council would also subject 19 new North Korean individuals and the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces to a global asset freeze and travel ban.

(Reporting my Michelle Nichols; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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