MOON SEEKS SANCTIONS
Moon, who took office this year advocating a policy of pursuing engagement with North Korea, has come under increasing pressure to take a harder line.
He has asked the United Nations to consider tough new sanctions after North Korea’s latest nuclear test.
The United States wants the Security Council to impose an oil embargo on North Korea, ban the country’s exports of textiles and the hiring of North Korean laborers abroad and subject leader Kim Jong Un to an asset freeze and travel ban, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
Diplomats say the U.N. Security Council could also consider barring the country’s airline.
“I ask Russia to actively cooperate as this time it is inevitable that North Korea’s oil supply should be cut at the least,” Moon told Putin, according to a readout from a South Korean official.
Putin said North Korea would not give up its nuclear program no matter how tough the sanctions.
“We too, are against North Korea developing its nuclear capabilities and condemn it, but it is worrying cutting the oil pipeline will harm the regular people, like in hospitals,” Putin said, according to the South Korean presidential official.
Russia’s exports of crude oil to North Korea were tiny at about 40,000 tons a year, Putin said. By comparison, China provides it with about 520,000 tons of crude a year, according to industry sources.
Last year, China shipped just over 96,000 tons of gasoline and almost 45,000 tons of diesel to North Korea, where it is used across the economy, from fishermen and farmers to truckers and the military.
Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May agreed in a telephone call on Tuesday that China must do more to persuade North Korea to cease its missile tests, a spokesman for May said.
‘FREEZE FOR FREEZE’
Sanctions have done little to stop North Korea boosting its nuclear and missile capacity as it faces off with Trump, who has vowed to stop it from being able to hit the U.S. mainland with a nuclear weapon.
China and Russia have advocated a “freeze for freeze” plan, where the United States and South Korea stop major military exercises in exchange for North Korea halting its weapons programmes, but neither side is willing to budge.
North Korea says it needs to develop its weapons to defend itself against what it sees as U.S. aggression.
South Korea and the United States are technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.
China objects to both the military drills and the deployment in South Korea of an advanced U.S. missile defense system that has a radar that can see deep into Chinese territory.
South Korea’s Defence Ministry said the four remaining batteries of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system would be deployed on a golf course in the south of the country on Thursday. Two THAAD batteries have already been installed. [mr/reuters]