UN Security Council adopts new resolution on DPRK

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The UN Security Council on Wednesday adopted a resolution to impose a set of new and tougher sanctions on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), while calling for an early resumption of the long-stalled six-party talks.

The resolution, in response to DPRK's nuclear test on Jan. 6 and a satellite launch on Feb. 7, is aimed at curbing the country's ability to develop its nuclear and missile programs.

In a statement, the council condemned in the strongest terms the nuclear test on Jan. 6 and the satellite launch on Feb. 7, which it said used ballistic missile technology banned by previous UN resolutions. Pyongyang insisted it was a peaceful satellite launch.

The council also reiterated its demands that the DPRK abandon all nuclear weapons and other nuclear programs as well as weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.

Wednesday's resolution includes a ban on all exports from the DPRK of coal, iron, iron ore, gold, titanium ore, vanadium ore and rare earth metals. It also puts out a ban on supply of all types of aviation fuel, including rocket fuel, to the DPRK.

Moreover, it requires member states to inspect all cargoes going to and from the DPRK. Previous sanction measures only required states to inspect cargo when there was reason to believe that it contained prohibited items.

The resolution imposes an asset freeze on all funds and other economic resources owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by the DPRK government or by the Workers' Party of Korea, if found to be associated with the country's nuclear or ballistic missile programs or any other prohibited activities.

Noting "the importance of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in northeast Asia at large," the resolution expresses the council's commitment to a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to the situation.

The resolution also calls for the resumption of the six-party talks, a multilateral dialogue mechanism brokered by China in efforts to seek a peaceful solution to the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula. It also involves the United States, Russia and Japan, the DPRK and the Republic of Korea.

It reiterates the council's support for the previous commitments by the six-party talks, including pushing forward with the goal of the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner, and promoting economic cooperation among the six parties.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday welcomed the Security Council's move, saying the DPRK "must return to full compliance with its international obligations."

"This firm response by the Security Council should put an end to the cycle of provocation and lead to the resumption of dialogue in accordance with the unified view of the international community," Ban said in a statement.

Stressing that sanctions are not an end in itself, Liu Jieyi, China's permanent representative to the UN, said the resolution itself cannot offer a fundamental solution to the nuclear issue of Korean Peninsula, and dialogue is the only viable way to resolve the issue.

"Today's resolution should be a new starting point and a paving stone for the political settlement of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula," said Liu, urging Pyongyang to rejoin the six-party talks which have been stalled since 2008.

Meanwhile, Liu voiced concerns about the possible deployment of Lockheed Martin's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, an advanced U.S. missile defense system, on the Korean Peninsula.

"China opposes the deployment of the THAAD anti-missile system on the Korean Peninsula because such an action harms the strategic security interests of China and other countries of the region, goes against the goal of maintaining peace security and stability of the peninsula, and would seriously undermine the efforts of the international community to see the political solution to the question of the Korean Peninsula," he said.

Vitaly Churkin, Russian permanent representative to the UN, also stressed that the newly-passed sanctions, though quite tough, are not an end in themselves, but rather just a way to ensure that all parties involved return to the negotiating table.

"The United Nations Security Council resolution on DPRK leaves Pyongyang with an option to return to the six-party talks, which should be resumed as soon as possible," he said.

Shortly after the adoption of the document, U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed the UN resolution, calling it "a firm, united, and appropriate response by the international community" to halt DPRK's nuclear and missile programs.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, during his recent visit to Washington, put forward a proposal of pursuing parallel tracks on the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula: the denuclearization and the replacement of the Korean armistice with a peace agreement.

Then in a phone call with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday after the adoption of the resolution, Wang stressed that a return to dialogue and negotiation is needed to ultimately resolve the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.

The sanctions in Wednesday's resolution represent the fifth round of sanctions imposed against the DPRK since 2006. The sanctions, which is widely believed to be tougher than ever, do not target DPRK people's daily life.

The DPRK conducted three nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013, respectively. Right after Pyongyang's first nuclear test, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution to impose sanctions on the DPRK and set up a sanctions committee.

In response to the nuclear tests conducted by the DPRK in 2009 and 2013, the council adopted another three resolutions to strengthen various sanctions on the DPRK, which included an arms embargo, an embargo related to nuclear, ballistic missile, and a ban on the export of luxury goods.

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