Published: Thu, February 23, 2017
World Media | By Joan Schultz

Russian Federation drafts new sanctions against North Korea after latest ballistic missile test

Russian Federation drafts new sanctions against North Korea after latest ballistic missile test

China will suspend all imports of coal from North Korea until the end of the year, the Commerce Ministry announced Saturday, in a surprise move that would cut off a major financial lifeline for Pyongyang and significantly enhance the effectiveness of United Nations sanctions.

A coke producer said he expected to ban to lead to a rebound in coke prices, which had fallen since late December due to good supply and reduced demand for the lunar new year.

On the other hand, if China intends to keep using its relationship with North Korea as a means to push against the U.S., Washington is prepared to respond through trade channels.

On February 12, the North Koreans fired what experts said was an intermediate-range ballistic missile known as the Musudan.

But China made exceptions for deliveries intended for "the people's well-being" and not connected to the nuclear or missile programs.

If, in fact, such is Beijing's thinking, the solution could be for China's allies to reassure it that the border between North and South Korea would remain strenuously closed no matter what.

"This move reflects China's responsible attitude on the Korean nuclear issue and its sincerity in implementing U.N. Security Council resolutions", Geng said, referring to the ban.

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China forges more steel than the rest of the world combined and the country previous year imported a total 59.2 million tonnes of coking coal, an increase of almost 24% over 2015.

The warning to Lotte, which threatened its business dealings in China, came after months of indirect economic retaliation and strained relations over the deal to lease its golf course at Seongju that would serve as a base for the missile shield, which Beijing fiercely opposes.

"If China is squeezing North Korea, it is for one objective and one goal only: to offer a cooperative gesture to the incoming Trump administration in return for an initiative on negotiations", said Stephan Haggard, a North Korea expert at the University of California, San Diego. But, under the guise of "livelihood purposes", China's imports of North Korean coal last year reached their highest levels in three years. This preoccupation with stability serves several of China's strategic goals, which include avoiding a flood of refugees into China's northeast (a region that already faces a precarious economic situation), maintaining North Korea as a strategic buffer separating China from USA and ROK forces, and reducing the chance that tensions might escalate into a nuclear conflict near China's borders.

Unfortunately, it's the ordinary North Koreans who will suffer as a result, while Kim Jong-un will not have to leave any of his palaces. However, North Korea's ability to wage online warfare has been under development for decades.

On Wednesday, Pyongyang defended the missile launch and slammed the UN Security Council condemnation.

North Korea's recent ballistic missile launch-the first to occur during the Trump administration-once again raises the question of how the United States should handle the North Korean nuclear program, and how China should fit into the equation. The new US presidential administration, which sees North Korea as "key security challenge", has ratcheted up the pressure as it revisits its Korea policy. "We won't pay attention to North Korea's interests anymore".

In December, despite the United Nations resolution, Chinese coal imports from North Korea increased.

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