United Nations – The U.N. Security Council voted on Friday to sharpen sanctions against North Korea after a series of missile launches in recent weeks.
The 15-member council voted on a resolution to impose travel bans and asset freezes on a new list of 14 North Korean officials. Four entities, including the national Koryo Bank and two trading firms, are also subject to a global asset freeze under the new resolution.
The Koryo Bank is linked to a party office that manages the personal finances of North Korea’s top officials, including leader Kim Jong Un.
South Korean U.N. Ambassador Cho Tae Yul said that he supported the “resolute response” of the council.
There have been missile launches, directed by Pyongyang, on almost a weekly basis since the inauguration of the new South Korean government in Seoul on May 10, the ambassador added.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley reiterated calls for a global severing of diplomatic ties to Pyongyang and a complete cessation of trading with the country, which previous Security Council resolutions have prohibited.
“The United States will continue to seek a peaceful, diplomatic resolution to this situation,” Haley said after the vote. “Beyond diplomatic and financial consequences, the United States remains prepared to counteract North Korean aggression through other means, if necessary.”
For the third time in 18 months, “this council has had no choice but to take decisive action,” Britain’s Deputy Ambassador to the U.N. Peter Wilson said. The measures would blunt Pyongyang’s ability to generate the revenue they need to prop up their nuclear activities, he added.
“Let me be clear: It is the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea] which has a clear choice to make on the way forward,” he said. “Together we, the international community, must be steadfast when enforcing these new sanctions.”
Despite voting in favor of the resolution, Russian Deputy Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov criticized the “sledgehammer of sanctions” as unhelpful and called for a political solution.
Among the 14 individuals on the Security Council’s blacklist are Cho Il U, who is allegedly responsible for North Korean spy operations in other countries.
The list also includes members of the ruling Workers Party of Korea and people involved in weapons and missile-related sales.
The U.N. has imposed trade sanctions and blocked the entry of technology into North Korea for building ballistic missiles since 2006. A U.N. ban also prohibits sales of weapons and fuel for missiles.
Analysts fear that the uptick in tests indicates progress toward Pyongyang’s ultimate goal of putting a nuclear warhead on a missile that could strike the continental U.S.