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U.N. Security Council Votes To Approve New Sanctions On North Korea


The most isolated country on Earth, North Korea, is now facing a new round of sanctions, and the U.S. hopes this time Pyongyang will take notice. The Obama administration worked closely with China on these sanctions. That's important to know because China is North Korea's main ally. The sanctions are meant to persuade the country to stop testing nuclear and missile technology and return to negotiations. NPR's Michele Kelemen has the latest.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power says the resolution closes loopholes that North Korea has been exploiting. It places limits on the country's ability to export natural resources. It bans the import of aviation and rocket fuel and requires all U.N. member states to inspect cargo going in and out of North Korea.


SAMANTHA POWER: We are clear-eyed about the nature of this regime. We are under no illusions that following the adoption of this resolution, the DPRK government will abruptly abandon its prohibited weapons program.

KELEMEN: But she's suggesting that the U.S. and other world powers learn something from nuclear negotiations with Iran - that international pressure works.


POWER: We must not lose sight of the ultimate goal of bringing North Korea back to the table for serious and credible diplomatic negotiations on denuclearization.

KELEMEN: That's what China's ambassador is stressing, too - the need to get North Korea back to the negotiating table. Speaking through an interpreter, Liu Jieyi, says diplomats need to, quote, "dispel the dark clouds of war."

LIU JIEYI: (Through interpreter) The situation on the Korean Peninsula is highly complex and sensitive, which makes it all the more necessary for us to keep calm and use diplomatic wisdom.

KELEMEN: The Chinese ambassador specifically raised his country's concerns about the possible deployment of a U.S. THAAD missile-defense system to South Korea. So did Russia's ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who also spoke through an interpreter.

VITALY CHURKIN: (Through interpreter) We are concerned about attempts to use the actions of Pyongyang as a justification to increase the military capabilities of the region, including offensive weapons and of the THAAD missile-defense system.

KELEMEN: U.S. Ambassador Power says the Obama administration only began consulting with South Korea about this defensive system after the North carried out a nuclear test and fired off a rocket in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. And she points out that everyone around the table in the council today recognized that threat.


POWER: And so the reason that we have moved forward with consultations on this system is because of that acute threat.

KELEMEN: Power says the new Security Council resolution was carefully drafted not to hurt the North Korean people who already live under what she calls one of the most repressive regimes the modern world has ever known. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
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