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UN council to vote on tougher N.Korea sanctions

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The United Nations Security Council will vote Thursday, at the request of the United States, on a resolution aimed at toughening sanctions on North Korea after it fired an intercontinental ballistic missile, diplomats said Wednesday.

The United States, which holds the rotating Security Council presidency for May, has scheduled the vote for the late afternoon, two diplomats told AFP on condition of anonymity.

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Earlier, a senior US official said the resolution would notably look at curbing oil imports, although diplomats say Russia and China could exercise their veto power.

The official noted that Security Council Resolution 2397, adopted unanimously in 2017, called for further consequences in the event of another ICBM launch.

“That was a provision of that resolution. That's precisely what happened and so we feel it's now time to take action,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

The official declined to comment on whether Russia and China would veto the text but said, “We think that this resolution will have strong support because this is an issue that's of profound importance to us, obviously, (and) of profound importance to our allies Japan and South Korea.”

According to a diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity, Beijing could be willing to adopt new sanctions in the event of nuclear testing, but not over missile launches.

A spokesperson for the Chinese mission meanwhile told AFP that “We don't think a resolution as proposed by the US can solve any problem.”

Beijing said it had proposed its own statement on North Korea but it “fell on deaf ears of the US.”

The US draft resolution up for vote Thursday calls for a reduction in the amount of oil that North Korea can legally import each year for civilian purposes from four million to three million barrels (525,000 to 393,750 tons).

It would similarly cut imports of refined petroleum from 500,000 to 375,000 barrels.

The resolution would also impose further sanctions on North Korean exports including of clocks, watches and mineral fuels.

The United States and South Korea say that North Korea fired three missiles, including possibly its largest ICBM, hours after President Joe Biden closed a visit to the region.

One UN envoy whose country is on the Security Council, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity, acknowledged the "huge threat" posed by North Korea's actions, but indicated the US decision to push for a quick vote could still backfire.

“A division of the Security Council on this crisis would be bad,” the envoy said, noting the high stakes on the nuclear proliferation issue.

“If the draft is rejected, I'm afraid it will just be good news for the young leader of the DPRK,” the ambassador said, adding that such a rift on the council would make it more difficult to "increase the pressure" on Pyongyang.

Read more:

US condemns N.Korea missile launches, urges ‘dialogue’

North Korea fires three missiles after Biden summits with Asia allies

China, Russia jets flew nearby as Quad met: Japan defense minister

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