Will China and Russia support oil sanctions on North Korea? Experts are skeptical

Key Points
  • Experts are skeptical of whether China and Russia will support an oil embargo on North Korea despite the rogue nation's recent missile and nuclear tests
  • Pyongyang remained defiant, with its state news agency saying the U.S. will pay a "due price" for leading a drive for additional U.N. sanctions on Kim Jong Un's regime
North Korea faces UN Security Council vote on oil embargo

The United Nations Security Council is meeting later on Monday to vote on new sanctions on North Korea, but whether China and Russia will support an oil embargo remains in question, said experts.

The U.S. wants the Security Council to impose an oil embargo on the reclusive nation, halt its key export of textiles and subject leader Kim Jong Un to a financial and travel ban, Reuters reported, citing a draft resolution it reviewed.

A crude oil embargo on Kim's regime would cut off vital resources to Pyongyang, with the aim of forcing it to come to the negotiating table. That comes after the reclusive regime conducted its largest-ever underground nuclear test on September 3, just days after firing a missile that flew over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

Whether oil will be included in the final draft and the degree to which crude exports to North Korea will be cut will all come down to negotiations between the U.S., China and Russia, Duyeon Kim, a visiting senior fellow at Korean Peninsula Future Forum, told CNBC's "Capital Connection" on Monday.

China, Russia against North Korea oil embargo: Analyst

Some were skeptical, however.

Choi Kang, vice president of research and principal fellow at The Asan Institute for Policy Studies, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Monday that the oil embargo likely wouldn't be included in the final draft of the resolution due to resistance from China and Russia.

If an oil embargo does not materialize, North Korea will likely think whatever it does, "'China (and Russia) will be on our side. We can do all the way.' Maybe the next step will be an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) test with a nuclear warhead," Choi added.

Russia and China have extensive ties with Pyongyang, including trade. China, in particular, is North Korea's largest trading partner and fears the potential fallout if political instability develops in its neighbor.

Both Russian and China have expressed resistance to tougher sanctions on North Korea, urging dialogue instead.

Does North Korea even want to talk?

But attempts to use sanctions to force North Korea to the negotiation table may be for naught.

Robert Kelly, a political science professor at the Pusan National University, told CNBC's "The Rundown" on Monday that it doesn't appear as if the North Koreans are all that interested in talking.

While the isolated regime may not be willing to chat with President Donald Trump due to his belligerent rhetoric, South Korea for the first time in nine years has a liberal and dovish president in Moon Jae-In, who was pushing for talks with Pyongyang — but the regime just "blew him off," said Kelly.

North Korea likes to keep adversaries guessing: Analyst

A defiant North Korea warned on Monday that the "blood-thirsty" U.S. will pay a "due price" for leading the drive for a U.N. resolution on additional sanctions on the East Asian nation, state news agency KCNA reported.

Choi said the international community should do more than just rely on U.N. Security Council resolutions to curb North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

"Maybe this time we have to think about a coalition of like-minded countries (coming together) to enforce tougher sanctions," he said.

Meanwhile, if North Korea does want to negotiate, it has to make some "meaningful concession" and not keep "cheating" on international sanctions, added Kelly.

"The North Koreans don't enjoy a lot of strategic trust, which is why we don't have dialogue: Because nobody thinks that going to the table with them is actually worthwhile anymore. We need to see something from North Korea (proving) that they are going to follow through this time and not more 'talk is cheap' posturing," Kelly said.