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UNITED NATIONS/SEOUL — North Korea strongly criticized Tuesday the U.N. Security Council’s decision to impose tough new sanctions against the East Asian nation, and warned the United States would experience the “greatest pain” for playing a leading role in the effort.
“My delegation condemns in the strongest terms and categorically rejects the latest illegal and unlawful U.N. Security Council resolution,” said North Korean Ambassador Han Tae Song at a U.N.-sponsored disarmament conference in Geneva.
North Korea, Han said without elaborating, is poised to “use a form of ultimate means.” North Korea had warned before the latest sanctions were imposed that the U.S. would pay “due price” if it pushed for stronger sanctions.
U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House Tuesday the new sanctions are “just another very small step” and “nothing compared to what ultimately will have to happen” regarding North Korea.
Aside from North Korea, reaction in Asia to the latest round of international sanctions has been positive, but many are still skeptical they will have any significant impact.
The new round of economic sanctions against North Korea were in response to its September 3 nuclear test of a possible hydrogen bomb.
“Today we are saying that the world will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea,” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told the council Monday evening. “And today the Security Council is saying that if the North Korean regime does not halt its nuclear program, we will act to stop it ourselves.”
If fully implemented, the new sanctions would significantly reduce North Korean access to international currency and fuel needed for its banned ballistic missile and nuclear programs by:
The previous round of U.N. sanctions imposed on North Korea in August banned the country’s $3 billion coal, iron, lead and seafood export industries.
Haley said the purpose of the increasing sanctions is to convince the Kim government to end its threatening nuclear missile development program in exchange for sanctions relief, economic aid and security guarantees.
“We are not looking for war,” she said. “The North Korean regime has not yet passed the point of no return. If it agrees to stop its nuclear program, it can reclaim its future. If it proves it can live in peace, the world will live in peace with it.”
South Korea’s presidential office said on Tuesday the new U.N. sanctions send a united message that the international community will never accept a North Korea as a nuclear state.
“The only way for it to get out of diplomatic isolation and economic pressure is to come back to the dialogue table for complete, irreversible and verifiable nuclear dismantlement,” said presidential spokesman Park Soo-hyun
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also welcomed the resolution and said Tokyo would continue to work closely with the international community to change Pyongyang’s policies.
“It’s important to change North Korea’s policy through pressure that is stronger than they’ve ever seen,” said Abe.
The United States had sought much stronger sanctions, including a complete oil embargo, an asset freeze on leader Kim Jong Un, and authorization to use military force if necessary to interdict ships suspected of smuggling banned items.
But China and Russia, which both hold veto power in Security Council, would only agree to the compromise version enacted, and both expressed their determination to see a return to dialogue to resolve the issue.
China’s official Xinhua news agency on Tuesday urged the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump to proactively engage in diplomatic outreach “in order to end an ‘endless loop’ on the Korean peninsula where “nuclear and missile tests trigger tougher sanctions and tougher sanctions invite further tests.”
Beijing and Moscow have urged the United States to suspend its joint military exercises with South Korea in exchange for a North Korea nuclear freeze, but the U.S. representative to the U.N. dismissed the proposal as insulting.
Washington and its allies say these legitimate defensive measures are not comparable to the North’s threatening nuclear program that has been banned and sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council.