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China calls US bluff on North Korea – again

Full text and analysis of latest UN Security Council sanctions Resolution 2375 against North Korea.

Alexander Mercouris

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The North Korean crisis took a further twist on Monday with a significant climbdown by the US at the UN Security Council and a further diplomatic victory by China.

This is not being widely reported in the West though some sections of the Western media have  reported that the final draft of the Resolution that was voted on by the UN Security Council was ‘watered down’ by comparison with an earlier draft of the Resolution presented to the UN Security Council by the US because of Chinese and Russian pressure.

The US did indeed earlier present to the UN Security Council a draft Resolution, which called for a total stop of the supply of oil to North Korea and which imposed what would have amounted to a naval blockade of North Korea, with the UN navy authorised by the UN Security Council to stop and search any ship travelling to and from North Korea (the draft of the Resolution presented to the UN Security Council by the US contained the words “all necessary means” which the US would have taken as authorising the US navy to do this).

Moreover in the days before the vote US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin publicly threatened that the US would sanction any country which voted against the Resolution which had been proposed by the US and even said that an Executive Order to that effect had already been prepared and merely needed President Trump’s signature.

The fact that the Resolution that the UN Security Council eventually voted for did not impose either a stop in the supply of oil to North Korea or the sort of naval blockade of North Korea the US demanded is what led some sections of the Western media to report that under pressure from China and Russia the US was forced to ‘water down’ its draft of the Resolution, making it weaker than the US originally intended.

In my opinion this is a total misconception.  The US draft was not so much ‘watered down’ as simply scrapped.

That this is so is shown by the fact that the Resolution the UN Security Council actually voted for is not just completely different from the US draft but clearly reflects Chinese thinking.

In order to explain this I herewith set out the full text of the UN Security Council Resolution (Resolution 2375) as provided by the United Nations’ website.

“The Security Council,

Recalling its previous relevant resolutions, including resolution 825 (1993),  resolution 1695 (2006), resolution 1718 (2006), resolution 1874 (2009), resolution 1887 (2009), resolution 2087 (2013), resolution 2094 (2013), resolution 2270 (2016), resolution 2321 (2016), resolution 2356 (2017), resolution 2371 (2017) as well as the statements of its President of 6 October 2006 (S/PRST/2006/41), 13 April 2009 (S/PRST/2009/7), 16 April 2012 (S/PRST/2012/13), and 29 August 2017 (S/PRST/2017/16),

Reaffirming that proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as their means of delivery, constitutes a threat to international peace and security,

Expressing its gravest concern at the nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (“the DPRK”) on September 2, 2017 in violation of resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), 2094 (2013), 2270 (2016), 2321 (2016), 2356 (2017), and 2371 (2017) and at the challenge such a test constitutes to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (“the NPT”) and to international efforts aimed at strengthening the global regime of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the danger it poses to peace and stability in the region and beyond,

Underlining once again the importance that the DPRK respond to other security and humanitarian concerns of the international community and expressing great concern that the DPRK continues to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles by diverting critically needed resources away from the people in the DPRK who have great unmet needs,

Expressing its gravest concern that the DPRK’s ongoing nuclear- and ballistic missile-related activities have destabilized the region and beyond, and determining that there continues to exist a clear threat to international peace and security,

Underscoring its concern that developments on the Korean Peninsula could have dangerous, large-scale regional security implications,

Underscoring its commitment to the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence of all States in accordance with the Charter, and recalling the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

Expressing also its desire for a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the situation, and reiterating its welcoming of efforts by Council members as well as other Member States to facilitate a peaceful and comprehensive solution through dialogue,

Underlining the need to ensure international peace and security, and ensure lasting stability in north-east Asia at large and to resolve the situation through peaceful, diplomatic and political means,

Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, and taking measures under its Article 41,

“1.   Condemns in the strongest terms the nuclear test conducted by the DPRK on September 2 of 2017 in violation and flagrant disregard of the Security Council’s resolutions;

“2.   Reaffirms its decisions that the DPRK shall not conduct any further launches that use ballistic missile technology, nuclear tests, or any other provocation; shall immediately suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program and in this context re-establish its pre-existing commitments to a moratorium on all missile launches; shall immediately abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, and immediately cease all related activities; and shall abandon any other existing weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner;

Designations

“3.   Decides that the measures specified in paragraph 8 (d) of resolution 1718 (2006) shall apply also to the individual and entities listed in Annex I and II of this resolution and to any individuals or entities acting on their behalf or at their direction, and to entities owned or controlled by them, including through illicit means, and decides further that the measures specified in paragraph 8 (e) of resolution 1718 (2006) shall also apply to the individual listed in Annex I of this resolution and to individuals acting on their behalf or at their direction;

“4.   Decides to adjust the measures imposed by paragraph 8 of resolution 1718 (2006) through the designation of additional WMD-related dual-use items, materials, equipment, goods, and technology, directs the Committee to undertake its tasks to this effect and to report to the Security Council within fifteen days of adoption of this resolution, and further decides that, if the Committee has not acted, then the Security Council will complete action to adjust the measures within seven days of receiving that report, and directs the Committee to regularly update this list every twelve months;

“5.   Decides to adjust the measures imposed by paragraph 8 (a), 8 (b) and 8 (c) of resolution 1718 (2006) through the designation of additional conventional arms-related items, materials, equipment, goods, and technology, directs the Committee to undertake its tasks to this effect and to report to the Security Council within fifteen days of adoption of this resolution, and further decides that, if the Committee has not acted, then the Security Council will complete action to adjust the measures within seven days of receiving that report, and directs the Committee to regularly update this list every twelve months;

“6.   Decides to apply the measures imposed by paragraph 6 of resolution 2371 (2016) on vessels transporting prohibited items from the DPRK, directs the Committee to designate these vessels and to report to the Security Council within fifteen days of adoption of this resolution, further decides that, if the Committee has not acted, then the Security Council will complete action to adjust the measures within seven days of receiving that report, and directs the Committee to regularly update this list when it is informed of additional violations;

Maritime Interdiction of Cargo Vessels

“7.   Calls upon all Member States to inspect vessels with the consent of the flag State, on the high seas, if they have information that provides reasonable grounds to believe that the cargo of such vessels contains items the supply, sale, transfer or export of which is prohibited by resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), 2094 (2013), 2270 (2016), 2321 (2016), 2356 (2017), 2371 (2017) or this resolution, for the purpose of ensuring strict implementation of those provisions;

“8.   Calls upon all States to cooperate with inspections pursuant to paragraph 7 above, and, if the flag State does not consent to inspection on the high seas, decides that the flag State shall direct the vessel to proceed to an appropriate and convenient port for the required inspection by the local authorities pursuant to paragraph 18 of resolution 2270 (2016), and decides further that, if a flag State neither consents to inspection on the high seas nor directs the vessel to proceed to an appropriate and convenient port for the required inspection, or if the vessel refuses to comply with flag State direction to permit inspection on the high seas or to proceed to such a port, then the Committee shall consider designating the vessel for the measures imposed in paragraph 8 (d) of resolution 1718 (2006) and paragraph 12 of resolution 2321 (2016) and the flag State shall immediately deregister that vessel provided that such designation has been made by the Committee;

“9.   Requires any Member State, when it does not receive the cooperation of a flag State of a vessel pursuant to paragraph 8 above, to submit promptly to the Committee a report containing relevant details regarding the incident, the vessel and the flag State, and requests the Committee to release on a regular basis information regarding these vessels and flag States involved;

“10.  Affirms that paragraph 7 contemplates only inspections carried out by warships and other ships or aircraft clearly marked and identifiable as being on government service and authorized to that effect, and underscores that it does not apply with respect to inspection of vessels entitled to sovereign immunity under international law;

“11.  Decides that all Member States shall prohibit their nationals, persons subject to their jurisdiction, entities incorporated in their territory or subject to their jurisdiction, and vessels flying their flag, from facilitating or engaging in ship-to-ship transfers to or from DPRK-flagged vessels of any goods or items that are being supplied, sold, or transferred to or from the DPRK;

“12.  Affirms that paragraphs 7, 8 and 9 apply only with respect to the situation in the DPRK and shall not affect the rights, obligations, or responsibilities of Member States under international law, including any rights or obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982, with respect to any other situation and underscores in particular that this resolution shall not be considered as establishing customary international law;

Sectoral

“13.  Decides that all Member States shall prohibit the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to the DPRK, through their territories or by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, and whether or not originating in their territories, of all condensates and natural gas liquids, and decides that the DPRK shall not procure such materials;

“14.  Decides that all Member States shall prohibit the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to the DPRK, through their territories or by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, and whether or not originating in their territories, of all refined petroleum products, decides that the DPRK shall not procure such products, decides that this provision shall not apply with respect to procurement by the DPRK or the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to the DPRK, through their territories or by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, and whether or not originating in their territories, of refined petroleum products in the amount of up to 500,000 barrels during an initial period of three months beginning on 1 October 2017 and ending on 31 December 2017, and refined petroleum products in the amount of up to 2,000,000 barrels per year during a period of twelve months beginning on 1 January 2018 and annually thereafter, provided that (a) the Member State notifies the Committee every thirty days of the amount of such supply, sale, or transfer to the DPRK of refined petroleum products along with information about all the parties to the transaction, (b) the supply, sale, or transfer of refined petroleum products involve no individuals or entities that are associated with the DPRK’s nuclear or ballistic missile programmes or other activities prohibited by resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), 2094 (2013), 2270 (2016), 2321 (2016), 2356 (2017), 2371 (2017) or this resolution, including designated individuals or entities, or individuals or entities acting on their behalf or at their direction, or entities owned or controlled by them, directly or indirectly, or individuals or entities assisting in the evasion of sanctions, and (c) the supply, sale, or transfer of refined petroleum products are exclusively for livelihood purposes of DPRK nationals and unrelated to generating revenue for the DPRK’s nuclear or ballistic missile programmes or other activities prohibited by resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), 2094 (2013), 2270 (2016), 2321 (2016), 2356 (2017), 2371 (2017) or this resolution, directs the Committee Secretary to notify all Member States when an aggregate amount of refined petroleum products sold, supplied, or transferred to the DPRK of 75 per cent of the aggregate amount for the period between 1 October 2017 and 31 December 2017 has been reached, and again notify all Member States when 90 percent and 95 percent of such aggregate amount has been reached, directs the Committee Secretary beginning on 1 January 2018 to notify all Member States when an aggregate amount of refined petroleum products sold, supplied, or transferred to the DPRK of 75 per cent of the aggregate yearly amounts have been reached, also directs the Committee Secretary beginning on 1 January 2018 to notify all Member States when an aggregate amount of refined petroleum products sold, supplied, or transferred to the DPRK of 90 per cent of the aggregate yearly amounts have been reached, and further directs the Committee Secretary beginning on 1 January 2018 to notify all Member States when an aggregate amount of refined petroleum products sold, supplied, or transferred to the DPRK of 95 per cent of the aggregate yearly amounts have been reached and to inform them that they must immediately cease selling, supplying, or transferring refined petroleum products to the DPRK for the remainder of the year, directs the Committee to make publicly available on its website the total amount of refined petroleum products sold, supplied, or transferred to the DPRK by month and by source country, directsthe Committee to update this information on a real-time basis as it receives notifications from Member States, calls upon all Member States to regularly review this website to comply with the annual limits for refined petroleum products established by this provision, directs the Panel of Experts to closely monitor the implementation efforts of all Member States to provide assistance and ensure full and global compliance, and requests the Secretary-General to make the necessary arrangements to this effect and provide additional resources in this regard;

“15.  Decides that all Member States shall not supply, sell, or transfer to the DPRK in any period of twelve months after the date of adoption of this resolution an amount of crude oil that is in excess of the amount that the Member State supplied, sold or transferred in the period of twelve months prior to adoption of this resolution, unless the Committee approves in advance on a case-by-case basis a shipment of crude oil is exclusively for livelihood purposes of DPRK nationals and unrelated to the DPRK’s nuclear or ballistic missile programmes or other activities prohibited by resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), 2094 (2013), 2270 (2016), 2321 (2016), 2356 (2017), 2371 (2017) or this resolution;

“16.  Decides that the DPRK shall not supply, sell or transfer, directly or indirectly, from its territory or by its nationals or using its flag vessels or aircraft, textiles (including but not limited to fabrics and partially or fully completed apparel products), and that all States shall prohibit the procurement of such items from the DPRK by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, whether or not originating in the territory of the DPRK, unless the Committee approves on a case-by-case basis in advance, and further decides that for such sales, supplies, and transfers of textiles (including but not limited to fabrics and partially or fully completed apparel products) for which written contracts have been finalized prior to the adoption of this resolution, all States may allow those shipments to be imported into their territories up to 90 days from the date of adoption of this resolution with notification provided to the Committee containing details on those imports by no later than 135 days after the date of adoption of this resolution;

“17.  Decides that all Member States shall not provide work authorizations for DPRK nationals in their jurisdictions in connection with admission to their territories unless the Committee determines on a case-by-case basis in advance that employment of DPRK nationals in a member state’s jurisdiction is required for the delivery of humanitarian assistance, denuclearization or any other purpose consistent with the objectives of resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), 2094 (2013), 2270 (2016), 2321 (2016), 2356 (2017), 2371 (2017), or this resolution, and decides that this provision shall not apply with respect to work authorizations for which written contracts have been finalized prior to the adoption of this resolution;

Joint Ventures

“18.  Decides that States shall prohibit, by their nationals or in their territories, the opening, maintenance, and operation of all joint ventures or cooperative entities, new and existing, with DPRK entities or individuals, whether or not acting for or on behalf of the government of the DPRK, unless such joint ventures or cooperative entities, in particular those that are non-commercial, public utility infrastructure projects not generating profit, have been approved by the Committee in advance on a case-by-case basis, further decidesthat States shall close any such existing joint venture or cooperative entity within 120 days of the adoption of this resolution if such joint venture or cooperative entity has not been approved by the Committee on a case-by-case basis, and States shall close any such existing joint venture or cooperative entity within 120 days after the Committee has denied a request for approval, and decides that this provision shall not apply with respect to existing China-DPRK hydroelectric power infrastructure projects and the Russia-DPRK Rajin-Khasan port and rail project solely to export Russia-origin coal as permitted by paragraph 8 of resolution 2371 (2017);

Sanctions Implementation

“19.  Decides that Member States shall report to the Security Council within ninety days of the adoption of this resolution, and thereafter upon request by the Committee, on concrete measures they have taken in order to implement effectively the provisions of this resolution, requests the Panel of Experts, in cooperation with other UN sanctions monitoring groups, to continue its efforts to assist Member States in preparing and submitting such reports in a timely manner;

“20.  Calls upon all Member States to redouble efforts to implement in full the measures in resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), 2094 (2013), 2270 (2016), 2321 (2016), 2356 (2017), 2371 (2017), and this resolution and to cooperate with each other in doing so, particularly with respect to inspecting, detecting and seizing items the transfer of which is prohibited by these resolutions;

“21.  Decides that the mandate of the Committee, as set out in paragraph 12 of resolution 1718 (2006), shall apply with respect to the measures imposed in this resolution and further decides that the mandate of the Panel of Experts, as specified in paragraph 26 of resolution 1874 (2009) and modified in paragraph 1 of resolution 2345 (2017), shall also apply with respect to the measures imposed in this resolution;

“22.  Decides to authorize all Member States to, and that all Member States shall, seize and dispose (such as through destruction, rendering inoperable or unusable, storage, or transferring to a State other than the originating or destination States for disposal) of items the supply, sale, transfer, or export of which is prohibited by resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), 2094 (2013), 2270 (2016), 2321 (2016), 2356 (2017), 2371 (2017), or this resolution that are identified in inspections, in a manner that is not inconsistent with their obligations under applicable Security Council resolutions, including resolution 1540 (2004), as well as any obligations of parties to the NPT, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Development of 29 April 1997, and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction of 10 April 1972;

“23.  Emphasizes the importance of all States, including the DPRK, taking the necessary measures to ensure that no claim shall lie at the instance of the DPRK, or of any person or entity in the DPRK, or of persons or entities designated for measures set forth in resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), 2094 (2013), 2270 (2016), 2321 (2016), 2356 (2017), 2371 (2017), or this resolution, or any person claiming through or for the benefit of any such person or entity, in connection with any contract or other transaction where its performance was prevented by reason of the measures imposed by this resolution or previous resolutions;

Political

“24.  Reiterates its deep concern at the grave hardship that the people in the DPRK are subjected to, condemns the DPRK for pursuing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles instead of the welfare of its people while people in the DPRK have great unmet needs, and emphasizes the necessity of the DPRK respecting and ensuring the welfare and inherent dignity of people in the DPRK;

“25.  Regrets the DPRK’s massive diversion of its scarce resources toward its development of nuclear weapons and a number of expensive ballistic missile programs, notes the findings of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance that well over half of the people in the DPRK suffer from major insecurities in food and medical care, including a very large number of pregnant and lactating women and under-five children who are at risk of malnutrition and nearly a quarter of its total population suffering from chronic malnutrition, and, in this context, expresses deep concern at the grave hardship to which the people in the DPRK are subjected;

“26.  Reaffirms that the measures imposed by resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), 2094 (2013), 2270 (2016), 2321 (2016), 2356 (2017), 2371 (2017) and this resolution are not intended to have adverse humanitarian consequences for the civilian population of the DPRK or to affect negatively or restrict those activities, including economic activities and cooperation, food aid and humanitarian assistance, that are not prohibited by resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), 2094 (2013), 2270 (2016), 2321 (2016), 2356 (2017), 2371 (2017) and this resolution, and the work of international and non-governmental organizations carrying out assistance and relief activities in the DPRK for the benefit of the civilian population of the DPRK and decides that the Committee may, on a case-by-case basis, exempt any activity from the measures imposed by these resolutions if the committee determines that such an exemption is necessary to facilitate the work of such organizations in the DPRK or for any other purpose consistent with the objectives of these resolutions;

“27.  Emphasizes that all Member States should comply with the provisions of paragraphs 8 (a) (iii) and 8 (d) of resolution 1718 (2006) without prejudice to the activities of the diplomatic missions in the DPRK pursuant to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations;

“28.  Reaffirms its support for the Six Party Talks, calls for their resumption, and reiterates its support for the commitments set forth in the Joint Statement of 19 September 2005 issued by China, the DPRK, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, and the United States, including that the goal of the Six-Party Talks is the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner, that the United States and the DPRK undertook to respect each other’s sovereignty and exist peacefully together, that the Six Parties undertook to promote economic cooperation, and all other relevant commitments;

“29.  Reiterates the importance of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in north-east Asia at large, expresses its commitment to a peaceful, diplomatic, and political solution to the situation, and welcomes efforts by the Council members as well as other States to facilitate a peaceful and comprehensive solution through dialogue and stresses the importance of working to reduce tensions in the Korean Peninsula and beyond;

“30.  Urges further work to reduce tensions so as to advance the prospects for a comprehensive settlement;

“31.  Underscores the imperative of achieving the goal of complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner;

“32.  Affirms that it shall keep the DPRK’s actions under continuous review and is prepared to strengthen, modify, suspend or lift the measures as may be needed in light of the DPRK’s compliance, and, in this regard, expresses its determination to take further significant measures in the event of a further DPRK nuclear test or launch;

“33.  Decides to remain seized of the matter.”

 

Annex I

Travel Ban/Asset Freeze (Individuals)

1.    PAK YONG SIK
a.    Description: Pak Yong Sik is a member of the Workers’ Party of Korea Central Military Commission, which is responsible for the development and implementation of the Workers’ Party of Korea military policies, commands and controls the DPRK’s military, and helps direct the country’s military defense industries.
b.    AKA: n/a
c.    Identifiers: YOB: 1950; Nationality: DPRK

 

Annex II

Asset Freeze (Entities)

1.    CENTRAL MILITARY COMMISSION OF THE WORKERS’ PARTY OF KOREA (CMC)
a.    Description: The Central Military Commission is responsible for the development and implementation of the Workers’ Party of Korea’s military policies, commands and controls the DPRK’s military, and directs the country’s military defense industries in coordination with the State Affairs Commission.
b.    AKA: n/a
c.    Location: Pyongyang, DPRK

2.    ORGANIZATION AND GUIDANCE DEPARTMENT (OGD)
a.    Description: The Organization and Guidance Department is a very powerful body of the Worker’s Party of Korea. It directs key personnel appointments for the Workers’ Party of Korea, the DPRK’s military, and the DPRK’s government administration. It also purports to control the political affairs of all of the DPRK and is instrumental in implementing the DPRK’s censorship policies.
b.    AKA: n/a
c.    Location: DPRK

3.    PROPAGANDA AND AGITATION DEPARTMENT (PAD)
a.    Description: The Propaganda and Agitation Department has full control over the media, which it uses as a tool to control the public on behalf of the DPRK leadership. The Propaganda and Agitation Department also engages in or is responsible for censorship by the Government of the DPRK, including newspaper and broadcast censorship.
b.    AKA: n/a
c.    Location: Pyongyang, DPRK

(bold highlighting added)
Turning first to the question of the sanctions, the key point to grasp is that the sanctions imposed on North Korea by Resolution 2375 do not materially change the economic situation of North Korea.  Moreover paragraph 26 of Resolution 2375 specifically rules out any suggestion that they should do so.
The sanctions are not intended to ‘punish’ North Korea economically.  Rather they are intended as a signal to North Korea of the UN Security Council’s strong disapproval of its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme, whilst the text of Resolution 2375 is also intended to set a clear limit on how far sanctions on North Korea can go.
The second important point about Resolution 2375 is that enforcement of the sanctions is not delegated to UN Member States – which in this context means the US – but to a special sanctions Committee set up previously by the UN Security Council, which not only reports to the UN Security Council but on which both China and Russia are represented.
Turning to the specific sanctions which have been imposed on North Korea, Resolution 2375 does not order a stop in the supply of oil to North Korea.  Instead it caps the quantity of oil supplied to North Korea at existing levels.  The point about this is that this of course the same quantity of oil that North Korea has been choosing to import.  The fact that North Korea is known to have been stockpiling oil since the spring of last year means that this is a greater quantity of oil than North Korea actually needs, so that if North Korea continues to import oil at this level it can continue to stockpile it.
The Resolution does restrict the supply of refined oil and gas products to North Korea.  However it seems that these are not being supplied to North Korea in any great quantity anyway since in accordance with its Juche policy North Korea does not import gas condensates in any significant quantity and itself refines most of the oil it imports.   Moreover the complex wording of paragraph 14 makes it clear that North Korea can continue to import refined petroleum products for use by its civilian economy and that the export of refined petroleum products to North Korea is not entirely prohibited.
These provisions – of which US ambassador Nikki Haley made a great deal in her speech to the UN Security Council – are not intended to cause North Korea further economic damage.  Rather they appear to be primarily intended to prevent North Korea from circumventing the cap imposed on its crude oil imports by increasing its import of refined oil and gas imports in their place.  In addition there seems to be a secondary motive of limiting the import by North Korea of certain refined oil products (diesel oil in particular) which are used by its military.
As for the elaborate procedure outlined in Resolution 2375 for inspecting ships trading with North Korea, the reality – as everyone knows – is that the US navy has been stopping and searching North Korean ships and other ships trading with North Korea on the high seas for some time.
This is of course an entirely illegal practice, but the US has never shown any hesitation in acting in this way when it thinks it can.
Resolution 2375 not only implicitly forbids this practice by setting out a procedure which instead should be followed but by setting out such an elaborate procedure for inspecting ships trading with North Korea essentially precludes the US from stopping and searching Chinese ships, which are of course the main carriers of traded goods between North Korea and China.
Resolution 2375 also imposes a ban on North Korean textile exports.  This is the major concession in the Resolution to the US, which has seized on North Korea’s textile exports as North Korea’s major foreign currency earner since prohibition of its coal exports earlier this year.
The key point about this provision is however that this is both a relatively minor trade (its annual value is put at around $700 million) whilst enforcement on its prohibition is all but impossible given the difficulty of tracing the origin of textile goods and the ease with which such goods move across the border between North Korea and China.
The underlying truth is that North Korea’s annual trade turnover in 2016 is calculated to have been no more than $3 billion.  Even on the most pessimistic assessment of the size of the North Korean economy that figure is remarkably low, and points to the limited importance of foreign trade to North Korea.  It is likely that the only product which North Korea needs to import in order to sustain its economy at its existing level is crude oil.
The true meaning of Resolution 2375 is that it shows that China is determined to continue supplying North Korea with crude oil at existing levels, and that it is not prepared to change its stance on this.
Chinese thinking on this issue has been set out clearly in a Global Times editorial published directly following the vote in the UN Security Council on Resolution 2375.  Its most important passages read as follows

The new resolution has triggered widespread discussion in the West, and some believe China and Russia “softened” a plan drafted earlier by the US.

The resolution represents the unified stance and will of the Security Council members and the international community to sanction North Korea at this point. The new sanctions are welcomed by Washington and Seoul, and will be largely pushed forward by Beijing and Moscow.

The US first circulated a draft resolution that called for a full oil embargo on North Korea in an attempt to win more leverage. As the new UN resolution has already been passed, raising such a request would be against the will of the international community and destroy international unity on the Pyongyang issue…..

Some Americans and South Koreans have attempted to collapse Pyongyang’s economy and suffocate the current Pyongyang regime. This is dangerous. North Korea’s nuclear crisis requires arduous efforts to find a final solution, and any attempt to immediately end the crisis will only escalate tensions and eventually jeopardize self-interests.
(bold italics added)
In other words the fact that Resolution 2375 does not impose a full oil embargo on North Korea means that imposing such a full oil embargo is “against the will of the international community” and merely to make such a demand – in the event for example that North Korea were to conduct another nuclear test – is construed by China as being unacceptable and wrong.
Read in this way it becomes clear what Resolution 2375 is intended to do.  Instead of “punishing” North Korea it imposes a sanctions red line beyond which China is not prepared to go.   That red line is a “full oil embargo”.
China not only rejects that demand but regards it as being made “against the will of the international community” and as being therefore illegitimate.
In place of US efforts to “solve” the North Korean crisis by “collapsing” North Korea’s economy – an approach Global Times says is “dangerous” – Resolution 2375 instead makes clear in paragraphs 28 to 30 that the objective is a negotiated solution of the crisis.  Moreover the highlighted words in the preamble make clear that a military solution, such as has been proposed for example by Senator Lindsey Graham and which from time to time has been hinted at by President Trump, is absolutely excluded.
As is often the case what the Chinese say softly the Russians, who the Global Times editorial confirms are working closely with the Chinese on this issue, say more forcefully.  Here is how the United Nations’ website summarises the comments made by Vasily Nebenzia, Russia’s new UN ambassador, at the UN Security Council meeting on Monday

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said his country did not accept the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s claim to be a nuclear-weapon State, emphasizing provisions in Council resolutions that called for a peaceful, political and diplomatic resolution of the situation.  Ignoring those provisions would mean a direct violation of the consensus within the Council.  The rejection by the resolution’s sponsors of the Secretary-General’s good offices, and reluctance to reaffirm the “four nos” — regime change, regime collapse, accelerated reunification and military deployment north of the thirty-eighth parallel — raised serious questions that remained unanswered, he emphasized.

Recalling that President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation had denounced Pyongyang’s recent provocations, he said it would be a “big mistake” to underestimate the Russian Federation-China joint initiative, and insisted that it be taken into consideration.  While it would be wrong not to react firmly to nuclear tests, the Council’s response must be thought out thoroughly, taking the humanitarian situation into account, he stressed.  He concluded by recalling that in the course of finalizing today’s resolution, many Council colleagues had described it as a “prologue” to work on a political settlement.  “We would like to see proof of that in the near future,” he said.

(bold italics added)

Though Nebenzia’s words are far more direct than those the Chinese use, the sentiments are the same.

Resolution 2375 does not therefore actually represent a ‘softening’ of the original draft Resolution presented to the UN Security Council by the US.  Instead it amounts to a complete replacement of that draft, even if it borrows from the US draft some of its language.  This is a point which incidentally is implicitly made in the wording of the Global Times editorial which I quoted above.

What then happened that caused the US to drop its demands for a “full oil embargo” and naval blockade?

The short answer is that the Chinese and the Russians in the discussions which took place in the UN Security Council over the weekend made it clear that they would veto the US backed draft and that faced with this threat the US backed down and instead agreed to the sort of Resolution the Chinese wanted.

The reason for that is that it would have been a total disaster for the US if China and Russia had vetoed a Resolution the US presented to the UN Security Council on the North Korean issue.

Not only would such a veto have ended North Korea’s isolation in the UN Security Council.   More seriously still, it would have put the US in a position where it might have felt obliged to act on US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s foolish threats of sanctions against China or risk losing face by not doing so.  With China holding $1 trillion of US treasury bonds and running a $300 billion surplus in its trade with the US it is easy to see how that might have ended in disaster, and why that was an outcome the US in the end chose to avoid.

In other words the US again tried to bluff China and again saw its bluff called.

This is becoming a regular pattern throughout the North Korean crisis.  Unfortunately Mnuchin’s foolish repetition of the same threats after Resolution 2375 was voted into force shows that no lesson has been learnt from it.

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America the Punitive

What do Russia, Turkey and Iran have in common?

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Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


There has been a dramatic shift in how the United States government carries out its business internationally. Admittedly, Washington has had a tendency to employ force to get what it has wanted ever since 9/11, but it also sometimes recognized that other countries had legitimate interests and accepted there was a place for diplomacy to resolve issues short of armed conflict. The Bush Administration reluctance to broaden its engagement in the Middle East after it recognized that it had blundered with Iraq followed by Obama’s relaxation of tensions with Cuba and his negotiation of a nuclear agreement with Iran demonstrated that sanity sometimes prevailed in the West Wing.

That willingness to be occasionally accommodating has changed dramatically, with the State Department under Mike Pompeo currently more prone to deliver threats than any suggestions that we all might try to get along. It would be reasonable enough to criticize such behavior because it is intrinsically wrong, but the truly frightening aspect of it would appear to be that it is based on the essentially neoconservative assumption that other countries will always back down when confronted with force majeure and that the use of violence as a tool in international relations is, ultimately, consequence free.

I am particularly disturbed with the consequence free part as it in turn is rooted in the belief that countries that have been threatened or even invaded have no collective memory of what occurred and will not respond vengefully when the situation changes. There have been a number of stunningly mindless acts of aggression over the past several weeks that are particularly troubling as they suggest that they will produce many more problems down the road than solutions.

The most recent is the new sanctioning of Russia over the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury England. For those not following developments, last week Washington abruptly and without any new evidence being presented, imposed additional trade sanctions on Russia in the belief that Moscow ordered and carried out the poisoning of Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4th. The report of the new sanctions was particularly surprising as Yulia Skripal has recently announced that she intends to return to her home in Russia, leading to the conclusion that even one of the alleged victims does not believe the narrative being promoted by the British and American governments.

Though Russian President Vladimir Putin has responded with restraint, avoiding a tit-for-tat, he is reported to be angry about the new move by the US government and now believes it to be an unreliable negotiating partner. Considering the friendly recent exchanges between Putin and Trump, the punishment of Russia has to be viewed as something of a surprise, suggesting that the president of the United States may not be in control of his own foreign policy.

Turkey is also feeling America’s wrath over the continued detention of an American Protestant Pastor Andrew Brunson by Ankara over charges that he was connected to the coup plotters of 2016, which were allegedly directed by Fetullah Gulen, a Muslim religious leader, who now resides in Pennsylvania. Donald Trump has made the detention the centerpiece of his Turkish policy, introducing sanctions and tariffs that have led in part to a collapse of the Turkish lira and a run on the banking system which could easily lead to default and grave damage to European banks that hold a large party of the country’s debt.

And then there is perennial favorite Iran, which was hit with reinstated sanctions last week and is confronting a ban on oil sales scheduled to go into effect on November 4th. The US has said it will sanction any country that buys Iranian oil after that date, though a number of governments including Turkey, India and China appear to be prepared to defy that demand. Several European countries are reportedly preparing mechanisms that will allow them to trade around US restrictions.

What do Russia, Turkey and Iran have in common? All are on the receiving end of punitive action by the United States over allegations of misbehavior that have not been demonstrated. Nobody has shown that Russia poisoned the Skripals, Turkey just might have a case that the Reverend Brunson was in contact with coup plotters, and Iran is in full compliance with the nuclear arms agreement signed in 2015. One has to conclude that the United States has now become the ultimate angry imperial power, lashing out with the only thing that seems to work – its ability to interfere in and control financial markets – to punish nations that do not play by its rules. Given Washington’s diminishing clout worldwide, it is a situation that is unsustainable and which will ultimately only really punish the American people as the United States becomes more isolated and its imperial overreach bankrupts the nation. As America weakens, Russia, Turkey, Iran and all the other countries that have been steamrolled by Washington will likely seek revenge. To avoid that, a dramatic course correction by the US is needed, but, unfortunately, is unlikely to take place.

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NATO Repeats the Great Mistake of the Warsaw Pact

NATO expansion continues to drive the world the closer towards the threat of thermonuclear war.

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Authored by Martin Sieff via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Through the 1990s, during the terms of US President Bill Clinton, NATO relentlessly and inexorably expanded through Central Europe. Today, the expansion of that alliance eastward – encircling Russia with fiercely Russo-phobic regimes in one tiny country after another and in Ukraine, which is not tiny at all – continues.

This NATO expansion – which the legendary George Kennan presciently warned against in vain – continues to drive the world the closer towards the threat of thermonuclear war. Far from bringing the United States and the Western NATO allies increased security, it strips them of the certainty of the peace and security they would enjoy if they instead sought a sincere, constructive and above all stable relationship with Russia.

It is argued that the addition of the old Warsaw Pact member states of Central Europe to NATO has dramatically strengthened NATO and gravely weakened Russia. This has been a universally-accepted assumption in the United States and throughout the West for the past quarter century. Yet it simply is not true.

In reality, the United States and its Western European allies are now discovering the hard way the same lesson that drained and exhausted the Soviet Union from the creation of the Warsaw Pact in 1955 to its dissolution 36 years later. The tier of Central European nations has always lacked the coherence, the industrial base and the combined economic infrastructure to generate significant industrial, financial or most of all strategic and military power.

In fact the current frustrating experience of NATO, and the long, exhausting tribulations that faced Soviet diplomats and generals for so many decades was entirely consistent with the previous historical record going back at least until 1718.

From 1718 until 1867 – a period of a century and a half – most of Central Europe, including even regions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, were consolidated within the Austro –Hungarian Empire, However even then, the Habsburg multi-national empire was always militarily weak and punched beneath its weight. After Emperor Franz Josef recklessly proclaimed his famous Compromise of 1867, the effectiveness of the imperial army was reduced to almost zero. The autonomous and feckless conduct of the Hungarian aristocracy ensured a level of confusion, division, incompetence and ineptitude that was revealed in the army’s total collapse against both Russia and Serbia in the great battles of 1914 at the start of World War I.

Germany moved in to occupy and consolidate the region in both world wars. But far from making Germany a global giant and enabling it to maintain its domination of Europe, the Central European regions – whether as part of Austro-Hungary during World War I or as independent nation-states allied to the Nazis in World War II – proved miniscule and worthless against the alliances of Russia, the United States, Britain and France that the Germans fought against in both global conflicts.

After the Soviet Union militarily destroyed the genocidal military power of Nazi Germany in World War II, Russia’s Great Patriotic War, the political consolidation of East Germany and Poland were strategically necessary for Russia’s security. But occupying and organizing the rest of the region was not. Far from strengthening the Soviet Union, those nations weakened and distracted it. Today, NATO is repeating the Soviet Mistake and that fatal move is inexorably draining the alliance of all its strength and credibility.

NATO is also repeating the disastrous mistake that France made in 1920-21 when it created a “Little Entente” of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Romania to supposedly counterbalance the revival of Germany. The plan failed completely.

Today those very same nations – enthusiastically joined by Hungary, Poland and the three little Baltic states – are relentlessly distorting both NATO and the EU. They generate weakness and chaos in the alliances they are in – not unity and strength.

As I have noted before in these columns, the great British historian Lord Correlli Barnett drew the important distinction between militarily powerful nations that are generators and exporters of security and those, either tiny or disorganized, pacifist and weak nations that have to import their security from more powerful states.

One might call such small countries “feeder” or “parasite” states. They siphon off energy and strength from their protector partners. They weaken their alliance partners rather than strengthening them.

The consistent lessons of more than 300 years of Central European history are therefore clear: Leading and organizing the tier of Central European nations in the Warsaw Pact did not strengthen the Soviet Union: Instead, those activities relentlessly weakened it.

Incorporating most of the small nations in Central Europe into any empire or alliance has never been a cause or generator of military or national strength, regardless of the ideology or religious faith involved. At best, it is a barometer of national strength.

When nations such as France, Germany, the Soviet Union or the United States are seen as rising powers in the world, the small countries of Central Europe always hasten to ally themselves accordingly. They therefore adopt and discard Ottoman Islamic imperialism. Austrian Christian imperialism, democracy, Nazism, Communism and again democracy as easily as putting on or off different costumes at a fancy dress ball in Vienna or Budapest.

As Russia rises once again in global standing and national power, supported by its genuinely powerful allies China, India and Pakistan in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the nations of Central Europe can be anticipated to reorient their own loyalties accordingly once again.

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Why Russia will NOT fall victim to emerging markets financial crisis (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 81.

Alex Christoforou

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As the Turkish Lira collapses, sending emerging market economies into turmoil, Russia is being slapped with additional US sanctions dubbed the US Congress ‘bill from hell’.

The full text the newest sanctions bill has been released. The sanctions are deliberately designed to punish Russia’s economy for a Skripal poisoning hoax for which no evidence of Russian state involvement has been presented. The new bill even goes so far as to suggest designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

The “sanctions bill from hell” officially entitled ‘Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2018’ was introduced by a group of Republican and Democratic senators on the 2nd of August.

According to RT, the bill would place restrictions on US cooperation with Russia’s oil industry, target Russian sovereign debt transactions as well as Russian uranium imports. In addition, the legislation calls for sanctions against “political figures, oligarchs, and other persons that facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris explain why, unlike the financial meltdown in Turkey, Russia is well equipped and properly prepared to weather the US sanctions storm… and may, in the end, come out of the latest emerging markets turmoil stronger and more independent from western petrodollar control than ever before.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via RT

The bill, which was recently published in full on Congress’ official website, also pledges full support for NATO and would require a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate if the United States ever wishes to exit the transatlantic alliance.

The legislation also declares that “the United States will never recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation” and that Washington, in conjunction with NATO, should “prioritize efforts to prevent the further consolidation of illegal occupying powers in Crimea.”

The pending ‘Kremlin Aggression Act’ decrees that Congress should also determine whether Russia “meets the criteria for designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.”

The bill also accused Russia of “enabling the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria to commit war crimes,” adding that Moscow has shown itself to be “incapable or unwilling” to compel Assad to “stop using chemical weapons against the civilian population in Syria.”

The Act calls for a congressional committee to investigate “alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity attributable to [Russia]” and resolves to “punish the Government of the Russian Federation for, and deter that Government from, any chemical weapons production and use through the imposition of sanctions, diplomatic isolation, and the use of the mechanisms specified in the Chemical Weapons Convention for violations of the Convention.”

The legislation is just the latest addition to a laundry list of sanctions and laws passed in the months following the 2016 presidential election.

Republican hawk Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) and Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), who both sponsored the bill, said in a joint statement that the legislation is designed to show that the US will “not waver in our rejection of [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] effort to erode western democracy as a strategic imperative for Russia’s future.” The Russia-obsessed Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) was one of the five co-sponsors of the bill.

Moscow has brushed off the new wave of accusations as a projection of internal US struggle. Some elements in the US government are trying to “keep afloat” the conspiracy that Russia meddled in the US elections, in hopes of derailing constructive relations with Moscow and using the issue “purely for internal American purposes,” Senator Konstantin Kosachev, who chairs the Upper House Committee for International Relations, has said in response to the latest sanctions.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has warned that the adoption of any US legislation that targets Russian banking operations and currency trade would be considered a declaration of economic war.

“If they introduce something like a ban on banking operations or the use of any currency, we will treat it as a declaration of economic war. And we’ll have to respond to it accordingly – economically, politically, or in any other way, if required,” Medvedev said last week. “Our American friends should make no mistake about it.”

Moscow has vowed to respond to any new sanctions. Russia’s Finance Ministry said it would continue to sell off its holdings of US Treasury securities, while some lawmakers have called for Russia and its allies to stop using the US dollar for mutual payments.

 

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