Yesterday China banned imports of coal, iron, gold and titanium from North Korean, as well as restricting the export of jet fuel and other oil products necessary to make rocket fuel.
According to Reuters, the move is in line with new UN sanctions passed by a resolution in March aimed at cutting off funds for the North’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. It came after Pyongyang conducted a fourth nuclear test in January and launched a long-range rocket in February.
With the mining sector a key part of the North Korean economy, diplomats hope that the move will strike a severe financial blow to the country. U.S. State Department officials have expressed optimism the sanctions will be more effective than earlier attempts to curtail North Korea’s nuclear program.
For the UN sanctions to succeed, the cooperation of China – an ally of North Korea – has been viewed as essential. At the global Nuclear Security Summit held in Washington last week, President Obama and President Xi said that both countries were “committed to the [denuclearisation] of the Korean Peninsula.
While in the past China has sat on the sidelines while the international community tried to limit North Korea’s ability to develop nuclear weapons, apparently Beijing didn’t respond very well to being threatened with a “nuclear storm” by its unpredictable neighbor.
Last month Japanese media carried reports that China’s largest banks, had stopped all yuan and dollar transfers to North Korea. The state-owned banks include Bank of China (BoC), China Construction Bank (CCB), Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and Agricultural Bank of China (ABC).