BEIJING – China announced on Saturday that it would suspend all coal imports from North Korea, a measure taken to comply with sanctions imposed on Pyongyang by the United Nations.
The ban will be in place through Dec. 31, according to a joint statement by China’s Ministry of Commerce and General Administration of Customs.
The statement said the decision was made to ensure China was complying with the UN Security Council’s Resolution 2321, which was approved in late November and imposes new sanctions on North Korea in retaliation for its Sept. 9 nuclear test.
The Council decided then that annual imports of coal from North Korea by member states should not exceed $400.9 million, or 7,500,000 metric tons, whichever is lower.
Saturday’s announcement comes after news reports this week that China had turned back a shipment of North Korean coal worth around $1 million.
China in December had announced a temporary halt to imports of North Korean coal, saying the move was taken to ensure compliance with Resolution 2321.
China is the lone customer for North Korea’s coal, one of the North Asian nation’s only sources of hard currency.
The announcement follows Monday’s poison-attack killing at Kuala Lumpur’s airport of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The Chinese government has not commented on that crime except to say it was closely following the local authorities’ investigation.