UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote Friday on another round of targeted sanctions aimed at further restricting North Korea's crude oil imports, which fuel its illicit weapons programs.
The proposed sanctions come in response to Pyongyang's November 28 launch of a newly developed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) called a Hwasong-15, which the North Koreans claim is capable of delivering nuclear warheads anywhere in the continental United States.
It was Pyongyang's third ICMB test this year and its 20th ballistic missile launch of 2017.
The United States drafted the text and negotiated it with China. It was circulated to the wider council membership on Thursday, and a vote is scheduled Friday at 1 p.m. EST (1800 UTC).
"We hope there will be a consensus and vote — the sooner, the better — and we are on board," France's U.N. ambassador, Francois Delattre, told reporters Thursday.
'A good message'
"We support it wholeheartedly and we hope that it will be unanimous," Japanese Ambassador Koro Bessho said. "I think it will be sending a good message if we can pass it, and that's what I think will happen."
The draft resolution, seen by VOA, seeks to cap crude oil exports to North Korea at current levels, not exceeding 4 million barrels per year. It would allow exemptions only on a case-by-case basis with Security Council approval.
The text also seeks to impose a ban on 90 percent of refined petroleum products exported to North Korea, as well as on all industrial machinery and some transport vehicles.
An earlier round of sanctions this year called on states not to renew work visas for North Korean laborers. The new draft goes a step further, requiring all North Koreans working abroad and their minders to return home within a year.
Council members have expressed concern that the regime sends its citizens abroad to perform manual labor and then confiscates all or part of their wages to help finance its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Deceptive shipping alleged
Some council members have also noted that North Korea appears to be illegally exporting coal and acquiring prohibited oil through deceptive shipping practices. The proposed text seeks to tighten maritime interdiction and inspection regimes.
There are also 19 new individuals, most of them in the banking sector, proposed for travel bans and asset freezes, as well as the Army ministry.
If approved, this will be the third round of targeted sanctions imposed by the Security Council this year in a bid to stop Pyongyang from advancing its illicit weapons programs and bring it to the negotiating table.