Resolution 2371 was adopted by the United Nations on August 5th in response to two intercontinental ballistic missile tests on July 3, 2017, and July 28, 2017, conducted by North Korea despite the Six-Party Talks agreement to abandon nuclear weapons programs.
The unanimous decision was designed to send a clear message to North Korea that the Security Council denounces North Korea’s violations and intends to pressure North Korea into ceding its prohibited nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Resolution 2371 is cited as the strongest set of sanctions ever imposed in response to a ballistic missile test.
The sanctions target North Korea’s principal exports in an effort to compel concession from the state and impinge its illicit activities. This includes imposing a total ban on all exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore, and sea food. Coal is North Korea’s largest source of external revenue, although their biggest ally China has already discontinued coal imports.
Support from China comes as a surprise to some due to the state’s relationship with North Korea. But China isn’t completely giving in to the UN’s plans, as it has proposals of its own. The state has issued the blueprint for a method its calls “suspension for suspension,” which is essentially their offer to broker a deal for North Korea to suspend its rapidly advancing nuclear and missile programs in exchange for the United States suspending its regular military exercises with South Korea, as the beginning of negotiations to eventually strip the North of nuclear weapons.
Resolution 2371 would also expand the number of entities and individuals designated for a travel ban, and freeze assets of 9 individuals and 4 entities.
And finally, the resolution would prohibit foreign states from allowing additional North Korean labourers to enter their territories and earn revenue for illicit programs. While this form of what is essentially slave labour has been happening for some time, it’s reported that in the last decade, the amount of money seized from salaries has risen drastically, Data Base Center for North Korean Human Rights claims that 80 percent of the wages forestry workers earned and approximately 30 per cent of the wages construction workers earned were seized by North Korean officials. Money is also taken as mandatory contributions to a what is called a “loyalty fund” and other mysterious “donations.” North Korean authorities earn at least $120 million annually from labourers directed to Russia.