US Seeks UN Permission to Board North Korean Ships

Wants to Use 'All Necessary Measures' to Enforce Oil Ban

Despite Russian opposition already having effectively killed the chances of a total oil ban on North Korea being enforced, the US is still pushing the plan at the UN Security Council. It’s not just a ban, however. The US wants permission to militarily enforce it.

The resolution includes broad language allowing the US Navy and Air Force to capture and board North Korean ships at sea, and to use “all necessary measures” to force them to reveal if they are complying with the ban.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley is looking for a vote by Monday, though it seems like any language within the bill about interdiction of North Korean ships is likely to be removed at the behest of both China and Russia if the resolution is to survive at all.

China is said to be interested in showing that they are “cooperating” with the US on some sort of UN resolution, though Russia has been more frank about opposing more sanctions. Either way, the US goal seems to be leaving at least some of the language about the interdiction within, and then treating that as permission.

The resolution is more than just a way to try to enforce and unenforceable embargo. The US plan is to militarily board North Korean ships, and officials are conceding that’s almost certainly a recipe for military confrontation.

The Treasury Department warned on Wednesday that if the UN action is blocked the US might go through with imposing a ban on all US trade with dozens of nations that trade with North Korea. Such a move would have disastrous economic consequences worldwide.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of