By Yi Whan-woo
The U.N. Security Council's (UNSC) new sanctions on North Korea leave major concerns about loopholes that Pyongyang may exploit to pursue its nuclear ambitions, analysts said Thursday.
Winning unanimous approval from the 15-member council, Wednesday, UNSC Resolution 2270 authorizes widening the ban on international trade with North Korea in response to its recent nuclear and long-rang rocket tests in defiance of existing sanctions.
However, the resolution also stresses that it should not have "adverse humanitarian consequences" for civilians, largely in line with demands from China, and to a lesser extent, Russia.
Such conditions will enable North Korea to continue importing crude oil from China, export non-military items such as textiles, carry out small-scale trade at the Pyongyang-Beijing border and allow Russia to use its ice free sea port in Rajin. North Koreaflagship carrier, Air Koryo, also will be allowed to obtain jet fuel overseas.
"North Korea will try to drive a truck through any loophole they find," U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power told the Associated Press.
Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, agreed.
"The new UNSC resolution is not aimed at choking North Korea to death. China apparently wanted to leave space for the repressive regime to breathe and survive," he said.
He cited that China excluded the ban on its export of crude oil to North Korea in the original text of the UNSC resolution it jointly drafted with the United States.
Beijing has supplied some 500,000 tons of crude oil annually to Pyongyang through a pipeline across the border. It is believed that North Korea relied on this to supply its military.
The USNC sanctions prohibit transfers of aviation fuel, including rocket fuel, to the isolated state.
Regarding the mandatory inspection of all cargo entering and leaving North Korea, vessels or aircraft will be excluded from inspection if their activities are "exclusively for purposes that will not generate revenue for DPRK individuals or entities."
The sanctions on North Korea's resources also exclude a ban on the export of North Korean-produced coal, iron and iron ore if such transactions are "determined to be exclusively for livelihood purposes."
An Chan-il, the head of the World Institute for North Korea Studies, speculated that North Korea may attempt to export coal from the Rajin port by disguising it as if it is from Siberia.
In line with Russia's demands, the resolution allows the export of Siberian-produced coal through the Rajin port, which is connected to Russia's border town of Khasan via a railroad.
An also said the North Korean regime may transport its slave workers on Air Koryo flights.
It is believed the cash-strapped regime has been pocketing wages from tens of thousands of North Korean workers who have been forcibly sent abroad to earn money to prop up the regime.
"After all, it depends on how China and Russia will be cooperative in making sure that North Korea will not exploit the U.N. resolution," said Park Won-gon, an international relations professor at Handong University.
Meanwhile, analysts downplayed the exclusion of Jang Song-chol, a Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID) representative in Russia, from the blacklist of individuals and entities.
KOMID officials in Russia, Syria, Iran and Vietnam are responsible for carrying out nuclear-related activities. Russia asked the UNSC to exclude Jang and finalize the blacklist with 16 individuals and 12 entities.
"I'd say Russia wanted to show its prowess as a veto-wielding member of the UNSC as well as a member of the six-party talks on Pyongyang's denuclearization," Park said.