BEIJING Dec 11 China's Commerce Ministry said
it will put a temporary ban on imports of North Korean coal as
part of a U.N. Security Council resolution meant to deter
Pyongyang from pursuing its nuclear weapons programme.
The 15-member Security Council late last month put new
sanctions on North Korea aimed at cutting its annual export
revenue by a quarter after it carried out its fifth and largest
nuclear test so far in September.
"To implement United Nations Security Council Resolution
2321, according to the People's Republic of China's Foreign
Trade Law, imports of coal produced in North Korea temporarily
will be stopped," the ministry said in a short statement on its
website on Saturday.
China, believed to be the only country buying North Korean
coal, would slash its imports by some $700 million compared with
2015 sales under the new sanctions, according to diplomats.
Despite its recent anger at Pyongyang's nuclear and missile
tests, Beijing remains North Korea's most important economic and
diplomatic backer and it frequently comes under suspicion for
not properly enforcing sanctions.
It said the ban will be in effect until the end of the year,
though coal shipped before Dec. 11 that was yet arrive at
Chinese customs would be exempt.
Over the first 10 months of this year, China imported 18.6
million tonnes of coal from North Korea, up almost 13 percent
from a year ago.
Coal is one of North Korea's only sources of hard currency
and its largest single export item.
North Korea has said any sanctions against its missile or
nuclear programmes are a violation of its sovereignty and right
It is technically still at war with democratic South Korea
because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace
treaty. The North regularly threatens to destroy the South and
the South's main ally, the United States.
Pyongyang has been under U.N. sanctions since 2006 over its
nuclear and ballistic missile tests. It conducted its latest
nuclear test on Sept. 9.
(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Sam Holmes)