North Korea says sanctions will only encourage it to speed up nuclear programme

Donald Trump is expected to discuss the growing standoff between the US and North Korea at the United Nations General Assembly this week 

Alexandra Wilts
Washington DC
Monday 18 September 2017 15:40
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US President Donald Trump speaks with US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley
US President Donald Trump speaks with US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley

The more sanctions the US and its allies impose on North Korea, the faster the country will work to develop its nuclear weapons programme, North Korea’s official KCNA news agency has reported, citing a foreign ministry spokesman.

The UN Security Council unanimously voted last week to ratchet up sanctions on North Korea following its sixth and largest nuclear test, although the penalties fell short of the sweeping sanctions the Trump administration had originally demanded.

A foreign ministry spokesman for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the North’s official name, said the latest sanctions represent “the most vicious, unethical and inhumane act of hostility to physically exterminate the people of the DPRK, let alone its system and government.”

The new penalties include bans on textile imports and the sale of natural gas to North Korea. They also limit the amount of refined petroleum sales to the country to two million barrels per year.

Both Russia and China, North Korea’s main economic ally, had opposed the US’s call for an oil embargo and other far-reaching sanctions.

During this week’s United Nations General Assembly, an annual gathering of diplomats and world leaders, Donald Trump is expected to discuss the growing standoff between the US and North Korea with his foreign counterparts.

“This will be a great week, we look forward to it, as far as North Korea is concerned, I think that most of you know how I feel,” Mr Trump said as he walked into the UN headquarters building in New York on Monday.

Over the weekend, Mr Trump referred to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as “rocket man” in a tweet, and said it was “too bad!” that long petrol lines have been forming in North Korea.

The US president in August had stated that North Korea would “face fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it continues to menace the US – remarks that were met by belligerent threats from North Korea, escalating tensions.

US officials have said that while the US prefers a diplomatic approach, the nation and its allies are prepared to respond to North Korea with military force.

Nikki Haley, the US’s ambassador to the UN, last week cast the new sanctions as a victory, but said the US does not “take pleasure in further strengthening sanctions”.

“We are not looking for war,” Ms Haley added. “The North Korean regime has not yet passed the point of no return. If North Korea continues its dangerous path, we will continue with further pressure. The choice is theirs.”

But despite the tougher penalties, Kim Jong-un’s regime continues to display its evolving military prowess. On Friday, in a significant show of defiance to the international community, North Korea fired another ballistic missile over Japan.

North Korea state media has said that the country's goal is to reach “equilibrium” of military force with the US.

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