‘Fresh N. Korea sanctions reflect influence of Russia & China’

‘Fresh N. Korea sanctions reflect influence of Russia & China’
The latest UN sanctions on North Korea were supposed to be extremely hard-hitting, but instead showed the influence of Russia and China in pushing for diplomacy, said Christine Hong from the Korea Policy Institute. Other analysts joined the discussion.

The UN Security Council (UNSC) has unanimously adopted a new sanctions resolution against North Korea. The decision prohibits countries from buying textiles from DPRK and issuing new work permits for North Korean workers.

Also, it freezes Pyongyang's crude oil imports at their current level and curtails the import of refined petroleum products to two million barrels a year.

Christine Hong, board member of the Korea Policy Institute

RT:  This version of the resolution is a big step back from what was originally proposed by the US. Why do you think the US watered down the new sanctions resolution? Do you think diplomacy is winning after all?

Christine Hong: …What you have here is basically Nikki Haley having initially distributed the most extreme set of sanctions perhaps even historically. In the first instance, this package was supposed to cut off all crude oil to North Korea. It was supposed to freeze the assets of Kim Jong-un; it was supposed to ban North Korean workers from being able to work overseas; it was supposed to entail the search on the high-seas of supposedly suspicious North Korean vessels. Essentially it does none of that. So in terms of what this was touted to do initially and what it actually is in its stripped down form are two very different things. This latest round of sanctions, which was supposed to be extremely hard-hitting, but instead reflected the influence of both Russia and China in pushing for diplomacy, signals a possibility…

Richard Becker from the anti-war ANSWER Coalition

RT:  Russia and China have proposed North Korea freeze nuclear and ballistic missile tests, while South Korea and the US stop their military exercises. Why wouldn't South Korea and the US not agree to such a proposal? And why doesn’t North Korea want to stop its program?

Richard Becker: For anybody who has an objective view of this situation, they know that regardless what rhetoric is used, North Korea has developed nuclear weapons and missile capability as a deterrent. They know that if they were to launch first, what they are not about to do, they would suffer incredible damage – if not being completely wiped out. So they are doing it as a deterrent.

The US could stop these maneuvers, and South Korea could stop the maneuvers …They talk about them as being a plan for decapitation and the invasion and occupation of the north. They are extremely menacing, and the other side never knows when those maneuvers are going on so close to their borders whether they are maneuvers or in fact the real thing.

North Korea has also said that if there is a peace treaty signed between them and the US and if there is a halt to those maneuvers – they would suspend nuclear and missile tests. But the US has brushed off as absolutely unthinkable. That is the real reason that we’re having an ongoing crisis.

Eric Sirotkin, founder, National Campaign to End the Korean War

RT:  Vladimir Putin has said the conflict is not going to turn into a large-scale one with the use of real nuclear weapons. Do you agree with this?

Eric Sirotkin: I think we could go any route when you have such weapons poised at one another in this situation. I do think that it is important for the international community to get on board, to step up and have unified support for dialogue and talks. That is good, but there is no peace treaty in place. As a human rights lawyer practicing international law and other things, I have found that it is well-established that an armistice agreement is only is only a temporary ceasefire. So consequently we’re coming up against this – that we have a written agreement to stop the firing, to leave Korea, to not introduce new weapons into Korea. And both sides have not done well…

Michael Maloof, Former Pentagon official

RT:  Could this kind of diplomatic maneuvering work with conflicts in other countries, for example, Syria? Is this a sign that UNSC might start working together more?

Michael Maloof:... There were P5+1 – the UNSC members and Germany - that got the nuclear agreement with Iran working. Even though Trump wants to pull out of that and he’s looking for all kinds of ways – that is the best thing we’ve got going right now. And that has helped freeze Iran’s nuclear development program. Iran doesn’t appear to be eager to break that. Certainly the other members of the UNSC - Russia, China, England, and France - do not particularly want to pull out of that agreement, notwithstanding the US wants to do. Angela Merkel of Germany said this could be held up as an example of how to proceed even with North Korea. That is why what I am suggesting what they ought to consider doing is – Russia, China should initiate, don’t wait for the US to call a meeting of this magnitude. Sit down and have a four-power discussion, and propose something sweeping that would be good. North Korea is developing these weapons for leverage and for its own survival. If we can lessen the tensions then that might help not only freeze but maybe cause a dismantling, as we saw before. But I don’t think North Korea would go that far – with the dismantlement.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.