The security council’s North Korea sanctions committee on Friday acted on a request by the US, took action against 21 shipping companies – including five based in China – 15 North Korean ships, 12 non-North Korean ships and a Taiwanese man. The move increases pressure on Pyongyang as the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, plans to meet with his South Korean and US counterparts.
It came days after Kim met the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, and an announcement that the North Korean leader would meet the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, on 27 April. He is also scheduled to meet the US president, Donald Trump, some time in May. While Trump has agreed to meet Kim, he tweeted on Wednesday that “maximum sanctions and pressure must be maintained”.
The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said the sanctions designations – the largest agreed by the council’s committee – were aimed at shutting down North Korea’s illegal smuggling activities to obtain oil and sell coal. “The approval of this historic sanctions package is a clear sign that the international community is united in our efforts to keep up maximum pressure on the North Korean regime,” she said in a statement.
The list was part of a request by Washington late last month for 33 ships, 27 shipping companies and the Taiwanese man to be sanctioned. China delayed that bid on 2 March, but did not give a reason. The 15-member committee works by consensus.Washington then proposed a shortened list on Thursday, which was unanimously agreed by the committee on Friday.Washington then proposed a shortened list on Thursday, which was unanimously agreed by the committee on Friday. The 12 non-North Korean ships are now subject to a global port ban and must be deregistered, while the 15 North Korean ships are subject to an asset freeze and 13 of those a global port ban.
The Taiwanese man, Tsang Yung Yuan, is accused of coordinating “North Korean coal exports with a North Korean broker operating in a third country, and he has a history of other sanctions evasion activities”, according to the UN listing. He is subject to an asset freeze and a travel ban.
The assets of the 21 shipping companies, which include businesses based in the Marshall Islands, Singapore, Panama and Samoa, must now be frozen. Since 2006, the security council has banned North Korean exports of coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, and capped imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.