US, China propose tough sanctions against NKorea

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The world moved closer to punishing North Korea for its latest nuclear test Tuesday as the United States introduced a draft resolution, backed by China, with new sanctions aimed at reining in Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and preventing their export to other countries.

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In response, Pyongyang threatened to cancel the 1953 cease-fire that ended the Korean War.

The draft resolution would subject North Korea “to some of the toughest sanctions imposed by the United Nations,” U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters. She called the scope of the sanctions “exceptional.”

The proposed resolution, worked out by Rice and China’s U.N. Ambassador Li Baodong over the last three weeks, reflects the growing anger of the U.N.’s most powerful body at North Korea’s defiance of three previous sanctions resolutions that demanded a halt to all nuclear and missile tests.

This one pledges additional measures if Pyongyang keeps ignoring the council with new tests, Rice said. North Korea’s latest test was in February.

With the support of China, the North’s closest ally, the proposed resolution is not expected to face serious opposition, though council members will send it to their capitals for review.

“We hope for unanimous adoption later this week,” Rice said.

The draft resolution targets for the first time the illicit activities of North Korean diplomats, the country’s illicit banking relationships and its illegal transfers of large quantities of cash, Rice said. It also adds new travel restrictions.

Hours before the U.N. meeting, and as word emerged of the U.S.-China proposal, Pyongyang threatened to cancel the 1953 cease-fire that ended the Korean War.

Any fresh international sanctions are certain to infuriate North Korea, which has claimed the right to build nuclear weapons to deter alleged U.S. aggression. Citing the U.S.-led push for sanctions, the Korean People’s Army Supreme Command on Tuesday warned of “surgical strikes” meant to unify the divided Korean Peninsula and of an indigenous, “precision nuclear striking tool.”

Hours after North Korea carried out its third atomic blast on Feb. 12, all 15 council members approved a press statement condemning the nuclear test and pledging further action. The swift, unanimous response set the stage for a fourth round of sanctions.

The sanctions have been aimed at trying to derail the country’s rogue nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. In addition to barring North Korea from testing or using nuclear or ballistic missile technology, they also ban it from importing or exporting material for these programs.

North Korea says its nuclear program is a response to U.S. hostility that dates back to the Korean War, which ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving the Korean Peninsula still technically in a state of war.

The North’s latest nuclear test was seen as a crucial step toward its goal of building a bomb small enough to be fitted on a missile capable of striking the United States. Many outside analysts still believe the North hasn’t achieved such a miniaturization technology.

In an attempt to target North Korea’s ruling elite, the draft resolution for the first time lists specific luxury items that all countries are banned from exporting to the reclusive nation, including yachts, luxury automobiles, racing cars and expensive jewelry, according to a Security Council diplomat familiar with the text.

The council banned the export of luxury goods after the first nuclear test in 2006 but it never spelled out the items. This resolution allows states to define “luxury goods” but says they must include the listed items.

The resolution also includes new provisions aimed at making it harder for North Korea to move around the funds it needs to carry out its illicit programs.

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