The U.S. said it would seek a vote Monday on a draft United Nations Security Council resolution on North Korea, as it pushes for fresh sanctions against the regime after its recent nuclear test.
The U.S. informed the Security Council on Friday night of its plan to call the vote, the State Department said in a brief statement, adding it would look to impose further penalties on Pyongyang.
Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said he hoped for a firm UN resolution, including a ban on oil sales to the regime. Speaking Saturday on Nippon Television, Onodera said stronger economic sanctions might lead to a change in North Korea’s behavior.
President Donald Trump’s administration is pushing the Security Council to adopt a united stance as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un seeks the capability to strike the U.S. with a nuclear weapon. Kim has said he won’t negotiate unless America drops its “hostile” policies.
The U.S. has warned that time is running out to act. North Korea detonated its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb on Sunday which it said was a hydrogen device, and may launch another intercontinental ballistic missile as soon as Saturday, the anniversary of its founding. Recent missile tests point to advancements by North Korea in developing a missile that could reach the continental U.S.
Still, a halt to oil exports is far from certain. While China and Russia have condemned Kim’s actions, they have said the ultimate goal needs to be to coax him to the negotiating table and avoid a war.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said more sanctions wouldn’t work, while China is wary about cutting off Kim’s economic lifeline to the point it risks collapsing his regime. China is North Korea’s main ally and by far its biggest trading partner, including for oil shipments. Observers have said Beijing might agree to just a partial, or temporary, oil exports ban.
China will support further UN action if it helps restart dialogue with North Korea, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday.
The U.S. has circulated a draft resolution that would, aside from barring crude oil shipments to North Korea, ban the nation’s exports of textiles and prohibit employment of its guest workers by other countries, according to a diplomat at the world body.
The proposal, which also calls for freezing Kim’s assets, has been sent to the 15 members of the Security Council, the diplomat said.
North Korea already warned Friday the U.S. will “pay dearly” after its UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said the regime was “begging for war.” Describing Haley’s comments as a “hysteric fit,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency threatened unspecified retribution.
“The U.S. administration will have to pay a dear price for her tongue-lashing,” KCNA said of Haley’s remarks.
On Thursday, Trump said it wasn’t inevitable that the U.S. would end up in a war with North Korea, but that military action remained an option.
“I would prefer not going the route of the military, but it is something certainly that could happen,” Trump said in a press conference at the White House.
He declined to say if he’d accept a nuclear-armed North Korea that can be successfully deterred from using such weapons. A senior administration official later told reporters that the U.S. won’t let North Korea extort or threaten the world with its nuclear program, and that the administration isn’t sure the country could be deterred.
The official said the danger of war is rising, and the U.S. is also concerned about North Korea exporting its nuclear technology to other nations or to terrorist groups. Any threat to the U.S. or its allies will be met with a massive military response, the official said.
The U.S. is willing to risk a veto of its proposal rather than see it watered down, according to a Security Council diplomat who asked not to be identified while negotiations are ongoing.
The Trump administration also kept up efforts to persuade other governments to scale back diplomatic and economic ties with North Korea. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson raised the issue of North Korean “guest workers” in Kuwait during a meeting with the Middle Eastern country’s foreign minister in Washington on Friday. Mexico has given North Korea’s ambassador 72 hours to leave the country.
Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told reporters in Manila on Friday his country was ready to cut trade ties to North Korea.
Earlier in the week, Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke for 45 minutes. While both sides released statements agreeing on the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula, there was no mention of next steps.
— With assistance by Kanga Kong, Kambiz Foroohar, Nick Wadhams, Eric Martin, Kim Chipman, Ben Livesey, and Keiko Ujikane