North Korea is already starting to feel the pinch from United Nations sanctions, in the form of fuel shortages, after the Security Council banned nearly all the country’s exports earlier this month, and previously banned its export revenue by one-third, or about $1 billion, over the summer.
“We have some indications that there are beginning to appear evidence of fuel shortages,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters Wednesday, the Washington Examiner reported. “We knew that these sanctions are going to take some time to be felt because we knew that the North Koreans, based on information that the Chinese had shared with us and others had shared with us, had basically stockpiled a lot of inventory early in the year when they saw the administration coming in, in anticipation of things perhaps changing.”
And change they did after President Donald Trump took office in January. Since then, and since North Korea has fired several missiles this year in defiance, including in retaliation of recent a ban on nearly all of its exports. The U.N. Security Council has passed two separate sanctions resolutions against the country.
The most recent sanctions agains North Korea ban about 90 percent of North Korea’s exports. They were passed unanimously by the U.N. Security Council – with both China and Russia voting in favor – following North Korea’s sixth ever successful nuclear missile launch and claims that the country now has a Hydrogen bomb it can place on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
The sanctions, while watered down from original drafts, fully ban the country’s textile exports and reduce its oil and petroleum exports. This means about 90 percent of North Korea’s exports are now banned, as well as a complete ban on the country’s overseas laborers that provide nearly $500 million in revenue. Additionally, all foreign investment with North Korea is cut off, and the regime’s assets will be frozen.
President Trump said Tuesday it is time for North Korea to realize that ceasing its missile program is the “only acceptable future,” but that the United States is ready to “totally destroy” the country if it continues on this path of destruction toward the U.S. or its allies.
Trump applauded the U.N. Security Council’s recent sanctions against North Korea, both of which were passed unanimously, notably with support from China and Russia. The most recent sanctions ban about 90 percent of North Korea’s exports.
But, Trump said: “We must do much more. It is time for all nations to work together to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its hostile behavior.”
North Korea recently launched yet another missile, this one an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan into the Pacific Ocean.
The North Korean launch came hours after North Korea threatened to blow the United States to “ashes and darkness” and has said it will “sink” the country of Japan, following a United Nations resolution that bans 90 percent of its exports.
“We think it’s just another very small step – not a big deal. Those sanctions are nothing compared to ultimately what will have to happen,” Trump has said.
The United Nations in August unanimously approved sanctions against North Korea in response to Kim Jong Un’s two successful intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in July.
Then, North Korea threatened “thousands-fold” revenge on the United States following those sanctions, which cut North Korea’s export revenue by $1 billion, or about a third. The sanctions banned North Korea from exporting coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood.
North Korea’s sixth nuclear missile test caused a 6.3 earthquake and was roughly five times as large as the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, Japan. The test came hours after North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un claimed that it now had an H-bomb to put onto its long-range ICBMs.
“I think what we’re seeing is a combined effect of these inventories are now being exhausted and the supply coming in is being reduced,” Tillerson said Wednesday. “But there are indications that there are shortages of fuel in particular and I think we will see latent evidence of the impact of the other sanctions that have been put in place.”
The ultimate hope, of course, is that North Korea ceases to pursue its nuclear missile program.