All cargo to & from N. Korea to be inspected under new UN sanctions

The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution to expand existing sanctions on North Korea, including the inspection of all shipments to and from the country. The move is in response to a recent nuclear test and rocket launch by Pyongyang.

Under the new sanctions, all cargo to and from North Korea must be inspected. Previously, shipments were only required to be inspected if there were reasonable grounds to believe they contained illicit goods.

The measures also include a ban on the transfer of any item to North Korea that could directly contribute to the operational capabilities of Pyongyang's armed forces, such as trucks that could be modified for military purposes.

In addition, 16 individuals – including trade representatives in Syria, Iran, and Vietnam – have been added to a UN blacklist, along with 12 North Korean entities.

The sanctions also include an extension of a list of explicitly banned luxury goods, which now includes luxury watches, aquatic recreational vehicles, snowmobiles worth more than $2,000, lead crystal items and recreational sports equipment.

The measures, aimed at cutting off funds for Pyongyang's nuclear and other banned weapons programs, go further than any UN sanctions in two decades, according to US Ambassador Samantha Power, as cited by Reuters.

"Virtually all of the DPRK's (North Korea's) resources are channeled into its reckless and relentless pursuit of weapons of mass destruction," Power told the council after the vote, adding that the cargo inspection measures are "hugely significant."

The sanctions were the result of nearly two months of bilateral negotiations, in which US President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping played a major role.

The measures come after a January 6 nuclear test and a February 7 rocket launch by North Korea, which Washington and its allies say used banned missile technology. Pyongyang maintained it was a peaceful satellite launch.

The official North Korean news agency, KCNA, said on Monday that the sanctions were “a wanton infringement on [North Korea's] sovereignty and [a] grave challenge to it."

North Korea has been under UN sanctions since 2006, as a result of previous nuclear tests and rocket launches.