China, Russia propose easing North Korea sanctions

Pyongyang’s allies seek to relax crippling trade curbs that have hurt North’s economy

James Reinl   | 17.12.2019
China, Russia propose easing North Korea sanctions


China and Russia on Monday proposed relaxing UN sanctions against North Korea’s ailing economy amid concerns that U.S.-led negotiations with the hermit nation have gained little traction.

According to media reports, Beijing and Moscow shared a draft UN resolution at the Security Council on lifting bans on North Korea exporting seafood and textiles and exempting inter-Korean rail and road-building projects from sanctions.

The document also calls for the resumption of so-called “six-party talks” -- a negotiation format towards denuclearization that brought together the two Koreas, China, Russia, Japan and the U.S., according to reports.

Diplomats on the 15-nation Security Council were expected to discuss the draft document this week, though it remained unclear whether it would be acceptable to Western members, who have taken a strong stand against Pyongyang’s nuclear arms program.

In order to pass, a draft Security Council resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes from any of the chamber’s five permanent members -- the U.S., France, Britain, Russia and China.

North Korea has been subject to UN sanctions over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs since 2006. The U.S., Britain and France say that sanctions should remain in place until Pyongyang scraps its prohibited work.

Since becoming U.S. president in 2017, Donald Trump has met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un three times in a bid to persuade him to give up his nuclear and missile programs. But talks have stalled and Kim has given Trump until the end of the year to make concessions.

North Korea has carried out 13 ballistic missile launches since May. Analysts and diplomats worry that Pyongyang could next year resume the nuclear and long-range missile testing that was suspended in 2017.

As well as its test ballistic missile launches, Pyongyang this month publicized a “very important test” at a long-range rocket launch site that analysts say may have been an engine for a space vehicle or a long-range missile.

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