NEW YORK — The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday rebuked North Korea for its recent nuclear test, voting unanimously to impose a wide-ranging array of new sanctions on the isolated country.
North Korea conducted its fourth-ever nuclear detonation in January, originally claiming it had successfully exploded a hydrogen bomb. Though it was quickly determined that wasn't the case, the international community has been working on a response ever since.
The new sanctions contained within the 19-page resolution, drafted by the United States and China over the course of nearly two months, affect nearly every sector of the North Korean economy and government.
Previous travel bans and asset freezes placed on North Korean leaders after previous nuclear tests have been tightened and expanded. A complete arms embargo is now also in place on the country — even previously purchased weapons can no longer be legally repaired and countries are banned from sending anyone with technical expertise on these weapons to help fix anything that might break.
More importantly, the resolution authorizes UN members to essentially blockade the country. Countries around the world are now compelled to "inspect the cargo within or transiting through their territory, including in their airports, seaports and free trade zones, that has originated in the [Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)], or that is destined for the DPRK, or has been brokered or facilitated by the DPRK," the resolution reads.
The country's ability to ship anything at all will be curtailed by the fact that insurance companies can no longer insure North Korean ships. Attempts by North Korea to sell off gold and precious minerals that have been stockpiled will be blocked. And should North Korean diplomats or government officials be found violating the sanctions, the resolution states, they are to be shipped back to the DPRK immediately.
The new sanctions regime "goes further than any sanctions regime in two decades," US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said after the vote. Power drew attention to the fact that more than 50 countries had co-sponsored the resolution and that all fifteen members of the Council voted in favor.
Power also stressed that the resolution's purpose was "not to inflict greater hardship on the North Korean people," as the resolution has humanitarian exceptions carved out of its provisions.
"I have consistently said that the DPRK would face consequences for its actions, and I welcome this resolution as a firm, united, and appropriate response by the international community to the DPRK's recent provocations that flagrantly violated multiple Security Council resolutions," President Barack Obama said in a statement after the resolution's passage. "Today, the international community, speaking with one voice, has sent Pyongyang a simple message: North Korea must abandon these dangerous programs and choose a better path for its people."
Tensions over North Korea's actions have been on the rise since the nuclear test. A rocket launch conducted last month also drew the ire of the international community, as North Korea is banned from testing missiles under previous UN sanctions.
The resolution passed on Wednesday was initially due to be voted on last Friday. A delay arose when Russia — one of the permanent members of the Security Council, whose no vote could have vetoed the resolution — asked for more time to review the text.