North Korea crisis: US seeks Kim Jong-un asset freeze

In Pyongyang, a packed square shows people wearing matching colours in neat rectangular units by the thousand, gathered in front of buildings bedecked in political bannersImage copyright

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North Korea’s news agency said this photo showed citizens celebrating the latest nuclear test

The US has proposed a range of new sanctions against North Korea, including an oil ban and a freeze on leader Kim Jong-un’s assets.

It has drafted a UN resolution in response to Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test, which will be considered by members of the UN Security Council.

The draft calls for bans on supplying a range of oil products to North Korea and purchasing its textile exports.

Kim Jong-un would also have his assets frozen, and be banned from travelling.

The latest move to toughen measures against North Korea follows its latest test in a fast-advancing nuclear weapons programme.

The country claims to have produced a powerful hydrogen bomb small enough to fit on a long-range missile, and in August, launched a missile over populated regions of Japan.

It is not known if the latest demands from the US have the backing of either Russia or China, both of which have expressed scepticism over increasing sanctions.

Both countries are suppliers of oil to North Korea, and both wield vetoes at the Security Council.

A further measure in the draft resolution would ban the recruitment of North Korean labourers abroad.

Remittance from foreign earnings and textile exports are believed to be two of the country’s most important remaining sources of income.

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Kim Jong-un’s personal assets are being targeted by the US draft resolution

At a meeting of the council earlier this week, US envoy Nikki Haley said 20 years of increasing sanctions bit-by-bit had not stopped Pyongyang’s weapons programme.

“Enough is enough,” she said. “We must now adopt the strongest possible measures.”

Reuters news agency said the US ambassador wants the Security Council to vote on the draft resolution on Monday.

But the move may face opposition from other members.

Russian President Vladimir Putin argued the amount of oil his country exports to North Korea – some 40,000 tonnes – was negligible.

He told the AFP news agency that further sanctions were not the answer.

“It is not worth giving in to emotions and driving North Korea into a corner,” he said.

China, meanwhile, has long been North Korea’s main ally, but – like Russia – has supported recent sanctions against Pyongyang in light of its ongoing missile tests.

In August, a new round of sanctions banned exports including coal, costing North Korea an estimated $1bn (£767m)- about a third of its entire export economy.

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