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U.N. Approves New North Korea Sanctions Over Missile Tests

British Ambassador to the U.N. Matthew Rycroft and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley were among the unanimous vote to impose new sanctions on North Korea Saturday.

The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously Saturday to impose new sanctions on North Korea over the country's long-range missile tests last month.

The measure cuts about $1 billion-worth of North Korean exports, or about a third of the country's export revenue each year.

"This resolution is the single largest economic sanctions package ever leveled against the North Korean regime," said Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. "This is the most stringent set of sanctions on any country in a generation."

The sanctions ban countries from buying North Korean coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood. Other countries will also be barred from increasing the "total number of work authorizations," and banned from creating "new joint ventures" with North Korean businesses or people.

North Korea tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July. The second, experts said, showed the potential to reach the U.S. mainland.

All 15 Security Council members approved the resolution, including Russia and China. China is North Korea's largest trading partner and makes up 85 percent or more of North Korea's total trade.

China's representative to the U.N., Liu Jieyi, said North Korea needed to "cease taking actions that might further escalate tensions," Reuters reported. But Liu also criticised the U.S. role on the Korean peninsula, saying the deployment of a U.S. antimissile system, called THAAD, in South Korea, "will not bring a solution to the issue of [North Korea's] nuclear testing and missile launches."

South Korea is a strong U.S. ally. China fears a spread of U.S. influence in the region, though China and the U.S. agree on wanting to stop North Korea's nuclear development.

President Trump has used different strategies, from charm to Twitter criticism, to urge China to put more pressure on North Korea over its nuclear program. "The President appreciates China's and Russia's cooperation in securing passage of this resolution," the White House said in a statement after the measure passed. "He will continue working with allies and partners to increase diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea to end its threatening and destabilizing behavior."

But, as Amy King of the Australian National University told NPR's Elise Hu and Anthony Kuhn, the focus on China "abrogates [other countries'] own responsibility, particularly in the case of the U.S." The U.S. could do more on its own to develop a relationship with North Korea, she said.

Speaking at a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Manila, Philippines, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called the vote "a good outcome," according to The Associated Press. South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha called it "a very, very good outcome."

Representatives from Southeast Asian countries plan to discuss at the summit what other action to take in response to North Korea's recent missile tests.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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