UN Security Council to vote Wednesday on North Korea sanctions: diplomat

US and Chinese Flags

US and Chinese Flags

The ceiling approach is a compromise reached by the USA and China after South Korea, the United States, and Japan raised serious concerns about "public livelihood" provisions in Resolution 2270 - adopted by the UNSC in response to the North's fourth nuclear test on January 6 and described as the "toughest yet" - being abused as a loophole to skirt sanctions.

The United States and China have been negotiating the new measures since shortly after Pyongyang's September 9 nuclear test. The five permanent Security Council members have reached a tentative agreement on a draft of the new resolution and they could make a final decision at a closed-door meeting on Monday.

"At present the Security Council members are having consultations on the draft".

After months of wrangling the United Nations security council is preparing to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea over its fifth and largest nuclear test yet.

The diplomats, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the resolution was negotiated between the U.S. and China for months. According to accounts from various foreign media sources, the U.S. and China, which are permanent UNSC members and the key countries in the discussions toward a new resolution, reached an agreement on November 26 on a draft that would limit exports of coal - one of the North's leading export items - to US$400,900,000 (472 billion won) or 7.5 million tons a year. If successful, it could cut the country's $3 billion in annual export earnings by at least $800 million, UN Security Council diplomats said. The sanctions subjected all shipments to and from North Korea to mandatory cargo inspection; banned the export of some earth metals, and tightened restrictions on North Korean banks, among other measures.

The resolution, which includes slashing the North's coal exports to China by up to 60 percent, comes in response to Pyongyang's latest nuclear test in September, the fifth largest test conducted by the country so far.

Also making the resolution less effective was the hike in global coal prices due in part to coal mine closures in Australia.

North Korea now earns over $1 billion a year from coal exports, its single highest source of income, according to diplomats and data from Global Trade Atlas.

Should the resolution be adopted this week, it would come more than 80 days after the North's fifth nuclear test.

China has traditionally been reluctant to embrace harsh economic sanctions on its neighbor, fearing that regime instability would result in a flood of refugees across their shared border.

China is North Korea's last-remaining major ally, and a key provider of food and fuel supplies. The use of force is not an option, so increasing the costs of these tests to the regime is the only viable worldwide response.

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