The U.N. Security Council is poised to vote on a fresh sanctions resolution on Friday that will add 14 North Korean individuals and four entities to its blacklist over the country's weapons program, according to a draft of the resolution obtained by Kyodo News.
Specifically, the resolution "condemns in the strongest terms" the nuclear and ballistic missile activities that the North, officially known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, has carried out since Sept. 9, 2016.
That was the date that Pyongyang conducted its fifth underground nuclear test -- and its second carried out in 2016, the most it has so far conducted in one year. It has also carried out an increasing number of ballistic missile tests. Both activities are banned under previous resolutions.
The increased frequency of the tests coupled with warnings of a possible sixth underground test and an intercontinental ballistic missile launch, which would bring the United States under threat, have raised global alarm.
Despite greater international pressure on Pyongyang not to conduct the tests, it has continued to do so, saying it is for self-defense purposes and showcasing greater technological capacities.
Following a nuclear test by the North on Jan. 6 last year, the Security Council adopted a sanctions resolution in March that year to blacklist 16 individuals and 12 entities.
Acting under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which means the council can use measures other than military force, the new text also "reaffirms" its decision that North Korea "shall abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, and immediately cease all related activities."
It also "reiterates the importance of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula" and "expresses its commitment to a peaceful, diplomatic, and political solution to the situation."
The list of the 14 individuals ranges from Cho Il U, who is believed to be in charge of overseas espionage operations, to Kim Chol Nam, president of Korea Kumsan Trading Corp., which supplies the General Bureau of Atomic Energy and serves as a cash route to the country, and Kim Tong Ho, who is the Vietnam representative for Tanchon Commercial Bank, which is involved in weapons-related sales. All of those blacklisted are subject to travel bans and asset freezes.
Among the four entities listed in the resolution are Kangbong Trading Corp., Korea Kumsan Trading Corp., Koryo Bank and the Strategic Rocket Force of the Korean People's Army. All of the entities are located in the nation's capital and conduct a variety of services.
Diplomats have said they anticipate the draft text to be voted on Friday afternoon, following its circulation to the full membership Thursday afternoon.
The United States has been pressing China, North Korea's only ally and major trading partner, to take more punitive measures such as an oil embargo.
Washington appears to have judged that expanding the U.N. blacklist should come first, as it may not be possible to spur Beijing to tougher action in the near term.
Apparently determined to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting as far away as the U.S. mainland, North Korea has been accelerating the pace of its weapons tests.
Pyongyang conducted the most recent ballistic missile test on Monday, its ninth of the year so far, although it is banned under previous U.N. resolutions from testing nuclear weapons or missile technology and is already subject to multiple international sanctions.
Earlier Thursday, the U.S. Treasury Department said it sanctioned three individuals and nine entities including the Korean People's Army in connection with North Korea's nuclear and missile development.