China, Russia in Surprise Bid to Ease N.Korea Sanctions

  • By Cho Yi-jun

    December 18, 2019 13:03

    China and Russia in a surprise move on Monday submitted a resolution to the UN Security Council seeking to ease sanctions against North Korea.

    The bid came even as North Korea appears to be getting ready for another long-range missile test and was immediately scotched by the U.S., which described it as "premature."

    The resolution seeks to lift a ban on some North Korea exports including seafood, textiles, bulldozers, tractors and fire-fighting vehicles as well as scrapping a deadline for countries to expel North Korean slave laborers by year's end.

    China and Russia have repeatedly call for easing sanctions against North Korea as their ties with the U.S. soured, but this is the first time they submitted a resolution to the UNSC. It has no chance of succeeding since it must be unanimously approved by all permanent members.

    The resolution also urges the UN to "adopt the most favorable approach towards requests for exemptions from existing UN sanctions against [North Korea] for humanitarian and livelihood purposes and... to exempt the inter-Korean rail and road cooperation projects from existing UN sanctions."

    China and Russia cited the North's restraint in nuclear tests and long-range missile launches as reasons despite signs that they are soon to resume.

    Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a regular briefing Tuesday that the resolution also contains calls for long-dead six-nation nuclear talks to be revived.

    But the U.S. State Department said, "Now is not the time for the UN Security Council to consider offering premature sanctions relief." It added that other members of the UNSC see eye to eye in the need for North Korea to "refrain from provocations" and "abide by UNSC resolutions."

    Meanwhile, NK Pro, which tracks North Korean developments, published a photo of an Air China airplane parked at Pyongyang Sunan International Airport being hooked up to a fuel truck bearing the North's Air Koryo logo. This suggests Beijing could be violating sanctions if the Chinese aircraft was giving oil to the North.

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