The U.N. Security Council will vote on Friday on a U.S. and Chinese proposal to blacklist more North Korean individuals and entities after the country’s repeated ballistic missile launches, diplomats said Thursday.
The draft resolution would sanction four entities, including the Koryo Bank and Strategic Rocket Force of the Korean People’s Army, and 14 people, including Cho Il U, who is said to head North Korea’s overseas spying operations.
If adopted, they would be subjected to a global asset freeze and travel ban. The measures could have been agreed by the council’s North Korea sanctions committee behind closed doors, but a public vote would amplify the body’s anger at Pyongyang’s defiance of a ban on ballistic missile launches by the United Nations.
The United States had been negotiating with Pyongyang ally China for five weeks on possible new sanctions. The pair reached agreement and circulated the draft resolution to the remaining 13 council members on Thursday.
It was not immediately clear if Russia would support the draft resolution after the United States on Thursday imposed its own sanctions on two Russian firms for their support of North Korea’s weapons programs.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow was puzzled and alarmed by the U.S. decision and that Russia was preparing retaliatory measures, Russian media reported.
The Security Council first imposed sanctions on Pyongyang in 2006 over its ballistic missile and nuclear programs and has ratcheted up the measures in response to five nuclear tests and two long-range missile launches. North Korea is threatening a sixth nuclear test.
The Trump administration has been pressing Beijing aggressively to rein in North Korea, warning that all options are on the table if Pyongyang persists with its nuclear and missile development.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the U.N. Security Council on April 28 that it needed to act before North Korea does. Just hours after the meeting, chaired by Tillerson, Pyongyang launched yet another ballistic missile.
Within days the United States proposed to China that the Security Council strengthen sanctions on North Korea over its repeated missile launches. Traditionally, the United States and China have negotiated new sanctions before involving the other council members.
Since then Pyongyang has launched several more ballistic missiles, including a short-range one on Monday that landed in the sea off its east coast.
Also Thursday, the United States blacklisted nine companies and government institutions, including two Russian firms and three people, for their support of North Korea’s weapons programs.
The United States has struggled to slow North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, which has become a security priority given Pyongyang’s vow to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland. Washington has worked to step up both unilateral and international sanctions in an effort to cut off funds and supplies to the reclusive state.
The measures announced by the U.S. Treasury sanctioned Ardis-Bearings, which it said is based in Moscow, and its director, Igor Aleksandrovich Michurin, for acting as a supplier to a North Korean trading company involved in the country’s missile and weapons of mass destruction programs.
Another Russian firm, Independent Petroleum, and a subsidiary were blacklisted for signing a contract to provide oil to North Korea and shipping over $1 million worth of petroleum products to North Korea, Treasury said.
The Treasury also sanctioned a major North Korean zinc company, the Korea Zinc Industrial Group, and the Korea Computer Center, which it said is a state-run information technology research center that generates foreign currency for the North Korean government through programming and software development.
The center is said to have offices in Germany, China, Syria, India and the Middle East, Treasury said.
A North Korean intelligence official, Kim Su Kwang, was also sanctioned. The Treasury said he had worked undercover at a U.N. organization in Europe.
The steps freeze any funds the individuals or companies may have in the United States and bar Americans from dealing with them.