The penalties, approved unanimously Saturday by the Security Council, aim to cut off roughly one-third of North Korea's estimated $3 billion in annual exports, ostensibly starving Kim Jong-un's government of funds for its weapons programs.
China, North Korea's main trading partner, has pledged to enforce the new sanctions but some critics are skeptical given what is widely seen as Beijing's lax policing of existing restrictions.
A global pressure campaign on North Korea propelled by sharp new United Nations sanctions received a welcome boost Sunday from China, the North's economic lifeline, as Beijing called on its neighbor to halt its missile and nuclear tests.
"I'm not convinced China has made the judgment that the regime in North Korea is more harmful to Chinese interests than reforming or eliminating the regime", Lefkowitz told USA TODAY. The Chinese may be cooperating at the moment, but if no dialogue is forthcoming, and the USA keeps upping the ante to pressure Pyongyang, Beijing could balk and cease the vigorous enforcement of sanctions. It has long accused the United States and South Korea of escalating tensions by conducting military drills. Concerns were heightened late last month when tests of an intercontinental ballistic missile indicated Pyongyang may be within a year or two of obtaining the technology to reach the USA with nuclear missiles. "If it believes it is only North Korea rather than the US and South Korea as well to blame for the nuclear issue, this ill-fitting mindset will not help solve the crisis", the strongly nationalist publication said. As a matter of urgency, Ruggiero argued, the USA should punish Chinese banks and companies helping North Korea evade sanctions. Why the nuclear tests were excluded remains unclear, however.
"President Donald J. Trump commends the United Nations Security Council for passing a new resolution that increases sanctions on North Korea in response to its recent ballistic missile tests", a White House statement on the vote from Saturday read.
The strongest sanctions yet against North Korea could still prove no match for the communist country's relentless nuclear weapons ambitions.
In short, China's cooperation on sanctions seems to rest on the conditions that the USA will not pursue an aggressive military approach and will soon engage in dialogue with North Korea; for that reason, the United Nations resolution also calls for the resumption of the suspended Six Party Talks. "The simple fact is Beijing is likely more afraid of North Korea than we are". North Korean shows scant interest in playing by America's rules.
The US-drafted resolution bans North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood following Pyongyang's two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July. Without such a commitment, talks appear unlikely. China has agreed to tough measures against North Korea in the past, only to back off (or employ creative accounting to mask ongoing activity).
Washington has dismissed a Chinese proposal created to pique Pyongyang's interest: a suspension of American military exercises with South Korea if the North freezes its weapons development. While the USA position is that North Korea must ultimately give up its nukes, the North insists it must keep them.
Reuters cited a "senior official familiar with negotiations between the United States and China" as saying that Tillerson's choice of words "was not an accident or a mistake".