The US has drafted a resolution they are expected to put up for a vote today in the UN Security Council. The resolution would target North Korea's oil imports -which mainly come from China (500,000 tons of oil a year to NK) and to a lesser degree from Russia (40,000 tons a year).
The exact measures that would be in the resolution remained unknown, but an early draft circulated by the U.S. called for imposing the toughest-ever United Nations sanctions on North Korea, including a ban on all oil and natural gas exports and a freeze of all foreign financial assets of the government and its leader, Kim Jong Un. - USA Today
The Foreign Minister of South Korea said at a news conference today has said it backs sanctions to restrict oil imports to North Korea.
"Whatever makes it into the final text and is adopted by consensus hopefully will have significant consequences in terms of greater economic pressure on North Korea."
But she said it would be up to the Security Council members on just how strict a embargo to enforce - a total ban or just a reduction.
At the same time South Korea is trying to maintain a united front with the policies of the United States,which she needs as protector,the President of South Korea has continued to call for peace talks with North Korea rather than the Trump administrations preferred path of trying to further isolate Pyongyang.
If you remember,Trump slagged Mr. Moon,South Korea's president, by saying Moon was trying to appease Pyongyang by wanting to engage in diplomatic talks with North Korea.
"We certainly don't think our policy is one of appeasement.It's one of strong pressure and sanctions, vis-à-vis provocations, but the offer of dialogue always being there open,"the Foreign Minister,Ms Kang Kyung-wha said.
North Korea threatened that if the United Nations Security Council imposes new sanctions on North Korea over its latest nuclear test,North Korea in turn will inflict the "greatest pain and suffering on the U.S. in response.
Below are two different wordings I have come across:
"In case the U.S. eventually does rig up the illegal and unlawful 'resolution' on harsher sanctions, the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) shall make absolutely sure that the U.S. pays due price," North Korea's Foreign Ministry said Monday. - WSJ
"The DPRK (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) is ready and willing to use any form of ultimate means" and the U.S. would pay a heavy price if new sanctions proposed by Washington are adopted. - USA Today
North Korea has stated that it will regard any restrictions that cut off its oil supply as an attempt by the U.S, to "strangle and completely suffocate " North Korea. That is exactly why it as developed nuclear weapons as a way to deter such actions from America.
China and Russia will refuse to go along with such restrictions,of course.
As a reminder,in order for any resolution to pass in the Security Council,there can be no veto among its five permanent members and there must be at least nine of the total 15 Security Council members who vote yes.
Knowing this,it is said that the U.S. has actually not included an oil embargo in the final draft and instead is calling for a ban on North Korea's textile exports (their largest revenue producers after coal and other minerals).
North Korea is currently under sanctions that target its exportation of iron ore and restrict its ability to plug into the international financial system.
Last week when Putin met with the president of South Korea he said that Russia exports very little oil to North Korea,but even so,he opposes cutting off North Korea's oil supply.
"We are worried that cutting off oil exports will inflict damage on North Korea's hospitals and on ordinary people."
China's greatest fear is that such a move will lead directly to worse case scenarios(for China) of the collapse of the North Korean government which would lead to chaos through out the region and could even lead to a U.S. aligned country right smack up against its border. All of which,China will do what ever she can to prevent.
At a news conference today,China's Foreign Ministry said that China wants to see the UN Security Council speak with a "voice of unity" in making a response to North Korea's latest nuclear test. He further stated that the purpose of any resolution should be to move all parties toward dialogue. He did not address questions about China's position on a possible travel ban or oil embargo against North Korea.
At the same time,China's central bank issued a notice today to all of its banks and financial institutions giving them the go ahead to implement UN Security Council resolutions. The People's Bank of China said for banks to update their systems with the names of any person or entity that is sanctioned,to conduct reviews of any past transactions they may have conducted with those sanctioned and to freeze any accounts they may find to prevent the transfer/use of any funds in those accounts.
On another note,South Korea's Foreign Minister said the South Korea has not discussed redeploying tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea(the US withdrew its nuclear weapons from the peninsula in 1991). She stated that such a move would be contrary to Seoul's ultimate goal of having the Korean peninsula a nuclear weapons free zone.
It has been South Korea's conservative politicians,who are now in opposition to the ruling party in government (including the current defense minister who mentioned the possibility as another option during a meeting with South Korean lawmakers last week) who have been calling for the reintroduction of tactical US nuclear weapons to South Korea. It is unclear just how serious they were in putting these ideas out there,but regardless,the government has said this discussion was never on an official level from the government itself.
(Kang) acknowledged, however, that "public opinion is swinging in that direction, so we watch that very closely." - WSJ
US National Security Advisor,Lt.Gen. McMaster has been in discussions with South Korea on possible deployment of "strategic assets " to South Korea. Stealth bombers and air craft carriers usually fall under this category (as well as nuclear weapons).