The UN Security Council agreed on Monday to a Chinese request to remove sanctions on four ships the United Nations had blacklisted for ties to Pyongyang's arms trade.The agreement came after China secured assurances the vessels would not use North Korean crews, a U.S. official said.
China asked the United States on March 16 for help removing the ships from the U.N. blacklist, according to a diplomatic cable sent the same day from the U.S. permanent mission at the United Nations to a group of other U.S. embassies.
The cable, reviewed by Reuters, showed wrangling between top diplomats from the United States and China over the tough new North Korea sanctions, weeks after Washington had presented a united front with Beijing, Pyongyang's main ally and trade partner.
The U.S. mission at the United Nations declined to comment on the cable or make its ambassador, Samantha Power, available for an interview about the cable. The U.S. Treasury Department, which administers U.S. economic and financial sanctions, also declined to comment.
The removal of the four ships was confirmed in a press release, which was seen by Reuters and will soon be issued by the Security Council, according to U.N. diplomats.While Washington has been the driving force behind the toughening international sanctions regime, China conducts 90 percent of the trade with North Korea and is the key to enforcing them.