In effort to avoid veto from China, US nixes proposal to freeze Kim Jong-uns assets in revised draft proposal circulated to UN

The US has significantly diluted a package of new proposed sanctions against North Korea, dropping an oil embargo and enforceable naval blockade in the hope of avoiding a Chinese veto at the UN security council.

A revised draft find by the Guardian and circulated by the US mission to the UN on Monday will impose a ban on imports of North Korean textiles and set a cap on Pyongyang's imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.

But other parts were dropped from a even stronger version proposed by the US last week, including the first asset freeze directed at Kim Jong-un, a total ban on petroleum sales to his regime, and a mandate for warships from any member state to inspect ships suspected of carrying contraband to or from North Korea, and to enforce inspect use” all necessary measures “.

The Pyongyang regime threatened retribution against Washington for any new sanctions measure threatening to inflict” the greatest ache and agony “ the US has ever encountered.

A diplomatic source at the security council said that the revisions in the draft had been induced with the aim of securing acquiescence from China and Russia, who expressed serious reservations about the original version. The US called for the security council in the wake of North Korea's sixth, and most powerful, nuclear exam on 3 September.

” This is a text designed with a view to its adoption ,” the source said.” If they were operating it to force a veto, they wouldn't have induced the revisions .”

Even if the US draft is not vetoed, an abstention by China in particular would significantly weaken its efficiency and effectiveness, as the North Korea is likely to take it as a signal that Beijing would not enforce its measures with much rigour.

The UK ambassador to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, insisted the revised text was still “robust” and argued the revisions were not a climbdown by the US.

” It's called negotiation. That's what we do here at the security council. There is a significant prize in keeping the whole of the security council unified ,” Rycroft said.” The version on the table is strong, it is robust, it is a very significant situate of additional sanctions on imports into North Korea and on exportations out of North Korea and other measures as well, so that's why we will be voting in favour of it .”

Alongside the withdrawal of the petroleum embargo, the most significant change to the resolution is the section on” maritime interdiction of cargo ships “. A note to the revised version says explicitly that the” provision would not permit the driving force” either to carry out an inspection or to make a suspect boat sail to a port where it could be inspected. The only enforcement mechanism would be possible sanctions imposed on any ship that does not comply with inspections.

In place of a full prohibit on oil exportations, the new draft outlaw petroleum condensates and natural gas liquids while imposing a cap of 2 million barrels a year on refined petroleum products. Crude oil importations are capped at their current level.

North Korea vowed retaliation for any new sanctions measures. In a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency on Monday, North Korea's foreign ministry advised the US that if it” did rig up the illegal and unlawful' solving' on harsher sanctions, the DPRK shall make absolutely sure that the US pays a due cost “.

Referring to the country by its official title, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, it added:” The forthcoming measures to be taken by the DPRK will cause the US the greatest ache and suffering it has ever gone through in its entire history .”

Richard Gowan, who writes on the UN and conflict management at the European Council of Foreign Relations, questioned the tactics being sought by Nikki Haley, the US envoy to the UN.

” This is a pretty solid solving, and if the US had worked it up softly with China and Russia it could have been sold as another significant win for Washington ,” Gowan said.” But the fact that the original US pitch was so much stronger now constructs it look like a defeat. Perhaps Haley felt that she had to open with a maximalist bid to get anything at all .”

Richard Nephew, a former sanctions policy official at the state department, argued:” Far from showing a major international shifting to subsistence regime-threatening sanctions, the UN[ security council's] proposed resolution underscores the degree to which the US and other members have fundamentally different opinions on[ North Korea ].”

” We lack vision to incorporate sanctions into a broader strategy and this is hurting our ability to get really tough sanctions or use them appropriately ,” Nephew, quoted on the 38 North website, which follows North Korean issues, said.” This must change if we wish to avoid simply employing sanctions for sanctions' sake .”

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