April 6, 2016 | By: The Associated Press
China has banned most imports of North Korean coal and iron ore, the country’s main exports, in a significant increase in pressure on the North under U.N. sanctions against its nuclear and missile tests.
China buys an estimated two-thirds of impoverished North Korea’s exports, making Beijing’s cooperation essential for trade penalties that the U.N. Security Council approved last month to succeed.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has intensified nuclear activities in defiance of U.N. sanctions, conducting his country’s fourth nuclear test in January and test-firing missiles.
In a sign of frustration with its ally, China signed onto Security Council sanctions last month that include mandatory inspections of cargo bound to and from North Korea. The council called on all countries to “redouble their efforts” to enforce the sanctions.
The latest Chinese restrictions announced Tuesday ban most imports of North Korean coal, iron ore, gold, titanium, vanadium and rare earths — a key revenue source for the mineral-rich North. The CIA estimated North Korea’s 2013 exports at $4.4 billion, with 65 percent of that going to China and the bulk of it made up of mineral sales.
Some imports for civilian use will be allowed so long as they are not connected to nuclear or missile programs, the Ministry of Commerce said. It gave no indication how large such purchases might be.
The announcement also banned sales of jet fuel to North Korea but said civilian aircraft would be allowed to refuel during flights to China.
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