Pyongyang’s main economic lifeline falls as China bans key imports from N. Korea
Starting Tuesday, no more exports of North Korean coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood will be accepted to the country, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced on Monday. Goods that have already reached Chinese ports and customs should be released not later than September 5.
However, the measures are not applied to exports of coal through North Korea’s Rason port by a third party, if it has UN approval and can prove that the goods do not originate from North Korea.
The announcement indicates Beijing’s full implementation of the latest UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution against North Korea, which targets key revenue sources of the communist state, depriving it of $1 billion annual foreign revenue. The restrictive measures were unanimously approved by all 15 members of the UNSC in response to North Korea’s latest missile tests, which it claims were of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
China is considered North Korea’s main economic lifeline, and the success of the latest round of sanctions depends to a large degree on Beijing. Following the UN vote in favor of punitive measures against Pyongyang on August 5, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi acknowledged that the UN resolution would affect the country’s economic interests, but promised that China is prepared “to pay most of the price” for it.
Tensions between the US – which initiated the latest UN resolution – and North Korea have been mounting recently with increasingly belligerent threats from both sides.
Meanwhile, Pyongyang recalled some heads of its foreign missions in China, Russia, and the UN back home to participate in a special diplomatic meeting on Monday, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap. The number of ambassadors called in to participate in the meeting is unclear.
The meeting may be a regular gathering of North Korean diplomats, according to Ministry of Unification spokesman Baik Tae-hyun, as cited by Yonhap.
The meeting may have been called “to deal with the difficult international circumstance the country is currently handling,” Yonhap reports.