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Trump will urge UN to impose North Korean naval blockade and oil embargo

A US draft security council resolution calls for member states to use ‘all necessary measures’ to inspect country’s shipping.

The US will embark on an aggressive effort to tighten North Korea’s isolation on Monday with a call for an oil embargo and a partial naval blockade.

A draft United Nations resolution seen by the Observer would also block textile exports and the hiring of North Korean labour by foreign countries. The American delegation has called for the UN security council to debate the draft, in an attempt to force decisive action following last Sunday’s massive nuclear test of a bomb, Pyongyang’s sixth.

The most striking language in the resolution authorises naval vessels of any UN member state to inspect North Korean ships suspected of carrying banned cargo and to use “all necessary measures to carry out such inspections”. The implications of such a resolution would be far-reaching. Any attempt to board or divert a North Korean vessel could trigger an exchange of fire.

As well as banning any exports of “crude oil, condensates, refined petroleum products, and natural gas liquids” to North Korea, the draft resolution calls for a prohibition on the import of textiles and an end to the hiring of North Korean nationals, on the grounds that the regime uses the foreign currency earned “to support its prohibited nuclear and ballistic missile programmes”.

Both Russia and China employ cheap North Korean labour. In Russia they work in logging camps and construction sites, helping build a new football stadium in St Petersburg that will be used in the World Cup next year.

The US draft measure would also freeze the assets of Kim Jong-un and the top leadership in Pyongyang.

Such a dramatic tightening of the economic vice is likely to meet resistance from China, which is anxious to avoid driving its embattled neighbour to the point of complete collapse; and Russia, which is promoting itself as a broker in the Korean standoff and has suggested that a new set of sanctions is “premature”.

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