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U.N. to vote on major export sanctions against North Korea

The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to vote Saturday afternoon on punitive sanctions against North Korea in response to Pyongyang's two tests of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) technology that could potentially execute a nuclear strike on the U.S. mainland. If approved, the sanctions package will cut North Korean export incomes — currently about $3 billion annually — by one third.

The sanctions target North Korean exports of commodities including coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore, and seafood. The measure would "also prohibit countries from increasing the current numbers of North Korean laborers working abroad, ban new joint ventures with North Korea and any new investment in current joint ventures," Reuters reports.

North Korean allies Russia and China are expected to support the vote, which makes passage highly likely. The measure condemns Pyongyang's nuclear program "in the strongest terms" and demands it be ended "in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner."

For another take on how to solve the problem of North Korea, check out this analysis from The Week's Harry J. Kazianis.