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North Korea faces new UN sanctions

WASHINGTON (AP) – The United States said Friday it has secured the support of the U.N. Security Council for a new package of sanctions designations that target smuggling at sea by North Korea.

Ambassador Nikki Haley said the North Korea Sanctions Committee, which comprises all members of the UN’s most senior decision-making body, unanimously approved designations of 21 shipping companies, one individual, and 27 ships. She said it was the largest-ever set of UN designations against the North.

“The approval of this historic sanctions package is a clear sign that the international community is united in our efforts to keep up maximum pressure on the North Korean regime,” Haley said in a statement.

It comes despite an easing of tensions, as North Korea has halted tests associated with its nuclear and missile programs for four months and embarked on a diplomatic offensive. Making his first foreign trip since taking power six years ago, leader Kim Jong Un met this week with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing and is due to meet this spring with the US and South Korean presidents.

In tweets Wednesday, President Donald Trump said he looked forward to meeting Kim and felt there was “a good chance” the North Korean leader would “do what is right for his people and for humanity.” But meanwhile, “unfortunately, maximum sanctions and pressure must be maintained at all cost!” Trump added.

The new sanctions package aims at countering maritime smuggling by North Korea to obtain oil and sell coal, evading restrictions that have previously been imposed by the Security Council to deprive the North of revenue and resources for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

A designation by the UN requires, for example, member states to deny port entry to ships on the sanctions list, or deny entry to individuals on the list.

The new designees were mostly based in North Korea, but included shipping companies based in Hong Kong, elsewhere in China, the Marshall Islands, Panama, Samoa and Singapore.