On 22 December 2017, the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted to apply tougher sanctions on North Korea. The United States drafted the penalties after the Pyongyang’s November 28 launch of its most advanced missile, and they include measures in order to reduce the import of refined petroleum products into North Korea by 90 percent.
The vote in object came one day after the United Nations General Assembly denounced President Donald Trump’s decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem and after the White House affirmed North Korea was responsible for last May’s international Wannacry cyber attack.
On the basis of September’s United Nations Security Council resolution, these new penalties target North Korea’s export, import, and maritime sectors, moreover, they include also provisions about energy security. In addition, the 93,000 North Koreans who currently work abroad will have to be sent home within 24 months, banning in this way the country’s citizens from working abroad and, consequently, preventing them to sending home up to $500 hundred million annually, according to US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.
What is more, the resolution bans all the most important sectors of North Korean exports, including textiles, and forbids the country from importing heavy machinery, industrial equipment, and transportation vehicles. All these items, in 2016, worth about $1.2 billion, making the 30 percent of North Korea’s 2016 imports (UN sources). Further, the resolution provides new requirements which aim to stop North Korean ships caught smuggling illicit items, including oil and coal, seize and impound those vessels.
Scott Snyder, Senior Fellow for Korea Studies and Director of the Program on US – Korea Policy, commented: “if it is indeed implemented, then we should see not only economic distress but potentially some humanitarian distress. The challenge here is that North Korea’s leader has tied his legitimacy to nuclear weapons and has tied his survival to nuclear weapons. The only way that is going to work is if it has an impact internally on elite cohesion in ways that cause Kim Jong Un to recognize that he is going in the wrong direction”.