US urges UN to cut N.Korea’s oil imports, ban tobacco, blacklist Lazarus hackers

© . North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the terraced residential district of Pothong Riverside in this undated photo released on April 3, 2022 by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). KCNA via REUTERS /File photo by Michelle Nichols UNITED NATIONS () – The United States is urging the UN Security Council to further sanction North Korea for relaunching ballistic missiles by banning tobacco and restricting oil exports to halving the country and blacklisting the Lazarus hacking group, according to a draft resolution reviewed by on Wednesday. The United States distributed the draft to 15 councilors this week. It was not immediately clear whether and when voting could take place. A resolution requires nine “yes” votes and no vetoes from Russia, China, France, Great Britain or the United States. Russia and China have already objected to strengthening sanctions in response to Pyongyang’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile last month — it’s the first since 2017. US Special Envoy to North Korea Sung Kim told reporters last week. week that the United States had discussed the draft UN text with China and Russia, but “unfortunately I cannot report that we have had productive discussions with them so far.” US and South Korean officials and analysts have also said there are mounting signs that North Korea could also test a nuclear weapon for the first time since 2017. The US-drafted UN resolution would extend a ban on ballistic missile launches to cruise missiles or “any other delivery system capable of delivering nuclear weapons.” It would halve exports to North Korea to 2 million barrels a year and halve exports of refined petroleum to 250,000 barrels. It also wants to ban North Korean exports of “mineral fuels, mineral oils and distilled products”. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is known for being a chain smoker — often seen holding a cigarette in photos in state media — and the draft resolution would ban exports of tobacco and manufactured tobacco to North Korea. North Korea has been subject to UN sanctions since 2006, which the UN Security Council has steadily – and unanimously – stepped up over the years in an effort to cut funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. LAZURUS HACKERS The council last tightened sanctions against Pyongyang in 2017, but since then Beijing and Moscow have pushed for easing of measures on humanitarian grounds. The United States and allies say Kim is responsible for the humanitarian situation and accuse him of funneling money into nuclear weapons and missile programs rather than spending it on the North Korean people. The Asian hermit state has successfully evaded some UN sanctions and continued to develop its programs, according to independent UN sanctions regulators, who reported in February that North Korean cyberattacks on cryptocurrency exchanges netted Pyongyang hundreds of millions of dollars. The draft resolution would impose an asset freeze on the hacking group Lazarus, which the United States says is controlled by the Reconnaissance General Bureau, North Korea’s primary intelligence agency. The Lazarus group has been accused of involvement in the “WannaCry” ransomware attacks, the hacking of international banks and customer accounts, and the 2014 cyber attacks against Sony (NYSE:) Pictures Entertainment. The motion for a resolution would also prohibit anyone from purchasing or facilitating “information and communication technology-related services” from North Korea. When asked about US pressure last week, China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun said: “We don’t think additional sanctions will help ease tension, it could actually make the situation worse.”

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