In Summary
  • The new resolution ends natural gas shipments to North Korea, caps crude oil shipments at their current levels, and puts a ceiling on refined oil products such as petrol and diesel.

  • North Korea has little oil of its own, relying on imports to keep its citizens and soldiers moving.

  • The US initially sought an oil embargo, which China — North Korea's sole ally and main trading partner — strongly opposed.

SEOUL,

The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted new sanctions on North Korea, including restrictions on oil shipments, to punish Pyongyang for its sixth and largest nuclear test.

But Washington toned down its initial proposals to secure backing from China and Russia.

Here are some key questions on UNSC resolution 2375, and its attempt to end the North's nuclear weapons and missile programmes. 

  • What impact will the oil measures have?

The new resolution ends natural gas shipments to North Korea, caps crude oil shipments at their current levels, and puts a ceiling on refined oil products such as petrol and diesel.

North Korea has little oil of its own, relying on imports to keep its citizens and soldiers moving.

The US initially sought an oil embargo, which China — North Korea's sole ally and main trading partner — strongly opposed.

Instead the resolution limits crude oil shipments from any country to the amount sent to the North in the last 12 months.

Beijing does not publish statistics for crude oil shipments to the North, shrouding the issue in secrecy, but is believed to supply around 4 million barrels a year.

2M BARRELS

The resolution also limits the North to importing 2 million barrels a year of refined oil products — representing a 15 percent cut based on UN-WTO International Trade Centre estimates, although some analysts put the effect as high as 56 percent.

"It's a red light for the growth of the North Korean economy," said Cheong Seong-Chang of Seoul's Sejong Institute, "but will not have huge impact on North Korea's military because the crude oil supply remains the same".

Crucially, the resolution includes an exemption for "livelihood purposes" — similar to clauses in past resolutions that have been used as loopholes.

Kim Hyun-Wook, professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy, warned there are "no means to check how much crude oil is delivered through the pipeline" between China and North Korea.

Koo Kab-Woo of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul said the measures carried symbolic value as the "first US attempt at touching North Korea's economic lifeline".

 

  • How significant is the textiles ban?

The resolution bans the import and export of textiles — both fabric and clothing — by the North.

Textiles are one of North Korea's major exports, estimated by Rajiv Biswas of IHS Markit to value $750 million.

Analysts say the move could cut off a major source of foreign currency for Pyongyang.

CHINA

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