July 30, 2009 / 7:03 PM / 10 years ago

China committed to enforcing North Korea sanctions: U.S.

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - China says it is committed to enforcing U.N. sanctions against North Korean companies and individuals linked to Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, a U.S. official said on Thursday.

North Korean soldiers patrol on a military boat on the Yalu River near the North Korean town of Sinuiju, opposite the Chinese border city of Dandong, June 14, 2009. REUTERS/Jacky Chen

Ambassador Philip Goldberg, U.S. coordinator for implementation of U.N. sanctions against North Korea, told reporters that U.N. member states have voiced “a unity of view, a singleness of purpose in implementing these (sanctions) resolutions.”

“That’s the case, certainly, with our Chinese partners,” he said after addressing a closed-door meeting of the Security Council’s sanctions committee on North Korea. “There have been some results, some of those have been reported in the press.”

This week a Chinese newspaper reported that Chinese border police seized 70 kg (154 lb) of the strategic metal vanadium bound for North Korea, foiling an attempt to smuggle a material used to make missile parts.

The 15-nation U.N. Security Council first imposed sanctions on North Korea after its nuclear test in October 2006.

China, the closest North Korea has to a major ally, voted for that resolution but never implemented it, which meant the partial arms embargo and ban on trade in nuclear and ballistic missile technology were left virtually unenforced.

After North Korea’s second nuclear test in May this year, the council passed a new resolution that expanded the arms embargo, urged states to cut off all financial ties with Pyongyang unrelated to aid programs, and called for additional firms and individuals to be placed on a U.N. blacklist for aiding North Korea.

SANCTIONS LIST LIKELY TO GROW

There are now eight entities, including North Korea’s General Bureau of Atomic Energy, and five North Korean individuals on the U.N. sanctions list. They face mandatory asset freezes and travel bans in all 192 U.N. member states.

Goldberg said that list would probably be expanded.

“Designations are still on the table,” he said. “They still can be made. We will probably be involved in further suggestions in the area.”

Goldberg said U.S. authorities had advised American banks “to have a heightened sense of caution” in dealing with all North Korean firms and individuals, not just those already listed on the U.N. blacklist.

The United States took similar steps in the case of U.N. sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. Washington pressured U.S. and foreign banks to cut off all business dealings with Iranian individuals and firms and most have complied, analysts and diplomats say.

Among the measures included in the Security Council’s June 12 resolution that responded to North Korea’s May 25 nuclear test is a total ban on arms exports by Pyongyang.

Weapons sales are a vital source of foreign currency for destitute North Korea, which has an annual gross domestic product of about $17 billion and a broken economy that produces few other items it can export.

Analysts have said the new U.N. measures will make it more costly for the North to trade arms but will not likely deter customers, including Iran, that have shown little interest in joining international plans to punish Pyongyang.

Editing by Xavier Briand

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