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US dilutes stand of N. Korea to allow UN vote

NEW YORK

The UN Security Council was scheduled to vote later on Monday on a draft resolution imposing new sanctions on North Korea after the United States toned down its demands in a bid to win support from Russia and China.

North Korea denounced efforts by Washington to impose new sanctions against the country

Washington has led the international drive to punish the rogue state after it detonated its sixth and most powerful nuclear device earlier this month.

The vote will be held at 6pm (2200 GMT), the Ethiopian council presidency said.

The United had originally pushed for a strict oil embargo, as well as a freeze on the assets of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

A new draft text circulated late on Sunday maintains an embargo on gas but would limit sales of oil to 500,000 barrels for three months from October 1 and 2 million barrels from January 1, 2018, for a period of 12 months.

Kim would be spared from a UN blacklist that would have hit him with an assets freeze and a travel ban and punished him directly for the country’s military drive.

The proposed resolution, however, would slap a ban on textile exports from North Korea, but drop demands for a full halt to payments of North Korea workers.

It would add the name of North Korean senior official Pak Yong Sik, who helps direct the country’s missile industries, to the blacklist along with three other North Korean agencies.

Among other concessions the new text also softens the inspection by force of ships suspected of carrying cargo prohibited by the UN and drops a proposed assets freeze on the state-owned Air Koryo airline.

Britain and France – permanent veto-wielding Security Council members along with the US, China and Russia – have given Washington their strong backing.

It remained unclear whether Russia and China would support the new raft of sanctions.

The North’s two main backers, they are wary of anything that might force the collapse of the regime and the resulting exodus of refugees.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) says estimates suggest Pyongyang imports about 10,000 barrels of crude oil a day, almost all of it from China.

In addition, according to figures from the International Trade Centre, a joint World Trade Organisation-United Nations agency, the North imported $115 million-worth of refined oil products — which could include petrol and aircraft fuel — from China last year. Another $1.7 million-worth came from Russia.

Agencies