Thank you, Mr. President.
Before I begin, I want to take a moment to honor some very important people. As we gather together in the Security Council, many around the world are preparing to gather with their families to celebrate a season of peace and generosity. Amid this celebration, we remember the men and women of our military who are away from their families, fulfilling their solemn vow to defend our nation and its allies against those who would harm us. My prayer this Christmas is that our words and deeds today contribute to our shared cause of peace and that they honor those who keep us safe.
And with that, I would like to specifically thank my Chinese colleagues for working with us on the negotiations. I want to thank all other members of the Council who really quickly moved to make action and allow this to come forward.
Today, for the tenth time, this Council stands united against a North Korean regime that rejects the pursuit of peace. The Kim regime continues to defy the resolutions of this Council, the norms of civilized behavior, and the patience of the international community. Their arrogance and hostility to anything productive has set their country on a destructive path.
Nine times before today, we have asked the North Korean regime to choose the path of peace. And if they do, we would welcome them back into the community of nations. But Pyongyang has chosen the path of isolation.
As we have in the past, we will continue to match the Kim regime’s choice of aggressive actions with actions of international sanction. I commend the members of the Security Council for their unity and persistence in this sustained international defense of peace and security.
On November 29, Pyongyang launched an intercontinental ballistic missile. This was another attempt by the Kim regime to masquerade as a great power, while their people starve and their soldiers defect. But for the international community, this is an unprecedented challenge from a defiant state. So we have leveled an unprecedented response.
This resolution ratchets up the pressure on North Korea even further, building on our last resolution, which included the strongest sanctions ever imposed on them. Those sanctions fully banned textile exports from North Korea. They banned all joint ventures and all new work permits for overseas North Korean laborers. And, critical to the regime’s ability to develop its nuclear and missile programs, the previous resolution cut off 55 percent of refined petroleum products going to North Korea.
Today, we cut deeper.
After North Korea’s September nuclear test, this Council capped refined petroleum exports into North Korea. Today’s resolution achieves an 89 percent total reduction of the Kim regime’s ability to import gasoline, diesel, and other refined products. And should the North Korean regime conduct another nuclear or ballistic missile test, this resolution commits the Security Council to take even further action. It sends the unambiguous message to Pyongyang that further defiance will invite further punishment and isolation.
The September resolution banned all new permits for North Koreans who work abroad and send the majority of their earnings to Pyongyang. This is a source of over $500 million each year to the Kim regime. Today’s resolution goes further – it requires that countries expel all North Korean workers within 24 months.
Previous resolutions banned 90 percent of North Korea’s exports. This resolution bans all remaining categories of major North Korean exports – a loss of nearly $250 million in revenue to the regime.
Previous resolutions cracked down on smuggling of banned items like oil and coal. But sanctions evasion has continued. So this resolution closes the loopholes in the system and requires countries to seize and impound ships caught smuggling illicit goods.
The list goes on.
The unity this Council has shown in leveling these unprecedented sanctions is a reflection of the international outrage at the Kim regime’s actions. But we’re not the only ones who are appalled by the North Korean regime. We’re not the only ones sacrificing for a solution – not even close.
At our last meeting on North Korea, I called on all nations to sever diplomatic and trade relations with North Korea. I reiterate that call today. For any nation that continues to support the Kim regime, I ask you to consider the nature of this regime. Consider this crisis through the eyes of the North Korean people.
Imagine being a North Korean soldier, so desperate and so ravaged by hunger and disease that you would take five bullets from your fellow soldiers in order to escape across the DMZ. Imagine being a 12-year-old in North Korea and being forced to attend public executions as a reminder of what would happen if you step out of line. Imagine being a mother, so desperate for a better life for your child that you would risk rape, torture, and imprisonment if you were caught trying to leave the country. And then imagine getting caught, being forced to abort your baby without anesthesia, and then trying again and again to escape. These are real stories of real people. These things happened. They should motivate us to do more.
I’m grateful to my colleagues for the serious measures we have enacted on behalf of the North Korean people. And I ask you keep them in your thoughts and prayers this holiday season as we continue to fight against this, the most tragic example of evil in the modern world.