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North Korea: UN Decision Should Open the Way for Diplomacy

North Korea: UN Decision Should Open the Way for Diplomatic Solution

Brussels, 12 September 2017 (ITUC OnLine): The unanimous decision by the UN Security Council to impose further economic restrictions on North Korea following its nuclear and missile tests shows that a peaceful solution is not out of reach, with the major world powers able to reach compromise on how to push the regime to abandon nuclear weapons. The UN sanctions include restrictions on trade to and from the regime, as well as a ban on new work permits for North Koreans working abroad.

“The North Korean regime presents an imminent danger to world peace, and it is encouraging that the permanent members of the Security Council have been able to reach agreement on a package that should de-escalate tensions and open the way for a diplomatic solution such as that proposed by the government of Germany. This must be backed by real enforcement of the new measures, given that North Korea’s tiny ruling elite has still been able to amass huge wealth under previous economic sanctions,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

China, which introduced new restrictions on North Korean bank accounts in the lead-up to the UN decision, remains the country’s largest trading partner, importing more than 80 per cent of its exports.

“Of all the Security Council members, China has the strongest influence on the regime of Kim Jong-un, and it must bring that leverage to bear in full in order to avoid the possibility of a nuclear catastrophe,” said Burrow.

For many years, an important source of wealth for Kim’s family and the ruling military elite has been the income of up to 100,000 North Koreans working abroad. Kept in conditions of absolute slavery, working in construction, mining and other sectors, their wages are taken by the regime and only a tiny proportion is left for them and their families.

“News that North Korean workers overseas have been building infrastructure for global sports events in Russia and Qatar is only the tip of the iceberg. Many other countries, including Malaysia and China, bear a heavy responsibility for the plight of these workers within their own borders. It is an appalling indictment of the international system that it is only now that the UN Security Council members have decided to clamp down on North Korea’s slave trade,” said Burrow.


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