Sat Feb 18, 2017 03:59PM
 North Korean coal workers
North Korean coal workers

China is set to stop all imports of coal from North Korea depriving the country of a crucial source of foreign exchange following its latest missile test.

"China will temporarily stop its imports of coal from North Korea for the rest of this year including coal for which customs applications have been made but not yet processed," China’s Commerce Ministry said in a statement.

The suspension, which is part of existing UN sanctions will start on 19th February and will last until the end of 2017.

The decision comes less than a week after North Korea's latest missile test, as tensions escalate over the reclusive state's defiance of UN resolutions.

The United Nations Security Council sharply criticized North Korea last week for the missile test and described it as a grave violation of UN resolutions.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly called out China for doing too little to help stop North Korea's nuclear program.

China traditionally ensured that UN Security Council resolutions on sanctions against Pyongyang included humanitarian exemptions, and had continued to purchase huge amounts of North Korean coal - $101 million worth in October alone - a crucial source of foreign exchange for Pyongyang.

But the latest resolution, passed in December, had no such clause and Beijing suspended purchases of coal from the North - for three weeks to December 31.