The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted new sanctions against North Korea on Monday, imposing caps on its imports of oil but stopping short of measures that could cripple the regime.
The move comes in the wake of North Korea's sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3.
The sanctions include a freeze on North Korean imports of crude oil at current levels of 4 million barrels a year and a cap on imports of refined petroleum products at 2 million barrels annually, or about half the current levels.
It is the first time the Security Council has targeted oil in its sanctions against the regime.
"We are done trying to prod North Korea to do the right thing," U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said after the vote. "We are now acting to stop it from doing the wrong thing."
But she also made a gesture of appeasement toward Pyongyang, saying the U.S. is not looking for war with the country.
"If it agrees to stop its nuclear program, it can reclaim its future. If it proves it can live in peace, the world will live in peace with it," Haley said.
The North has "not yet passed the point of no return," she added.
The United States had pushed for a complete oil embargo to stop North Korea's development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles aimed at the continental U.S.
But China and Russia, two of the five veto-wielding council members, reportedly balked at any move that could destabilize the impoverished country.
Still, the restrictions on oil are expected to reduce North Korea's consumption of related products by 30 percent, according to Haley.
Resolution 2375 also includes a ban on exports of North Korean textiles, a key source of revenue for the regime, and restrictions on the use of North Korean workers overseas.
North Korea is estimated to earn some $800 million and $200 million annually from the two sectors, respectively.
The resolution also prohibits North Korean imports of liquefied natural gas and condensates.
Marking a step back from the original U.S. draft, however, there is no travel ban or asset freeze against North Korean leader Kim Jong-un or his sister, Yo-jong.
Despite Washington's call for the use of "all necessary measures" to intercept and inspect blacklisted North Korean ships, the new resolution also limits such inspections to cases where the flag state approves.
The resolution demonstrates the international community's growing resolve to take action against North Korea, as its adoption comes only eight days after the nuclear test.
Previous resolutions against North Korea -- of which there are eight since 2006 -- often took months to pass.
The last resolution was adopted on Aug. 5 after Pyongyang tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July.
Anthony Ruggiero, a sanctions expert and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, said the new measures are an "important step forward."
"The final resolution is less than the Trump administration initially proposed, demonstrating the difficulties of negotiating with North Korea's chief sanctions enablers (China and Russia)," he said in emailed comments to Yonhap.
But Washington should now focus on implementation and explore other options.
"The Trump administration should implement its proposal for inspections of North Korea-related vessels, including boarding on the high seas, through the creation of a group of like-minded countries (South Korea, Japan, Australia, Britain, France and Germany) committed to reducing North Korea's revenue and prohibited activities," Ruggiero said.
Hwi Won email@example.com
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