North Korea says that the UN’s latest sanctions are an “act of war”.
The international community has agreed not to allow North Korea to import huge amounts of oil and other goods in the hope of calming the nuclear situation. But North Korea’s foreign ministry only called the new rules an act of war, and promised that it would punish those who had agreed to it.
The UN security council unanimously agreed on the new sanctions in a vote on Friday. They were introduced in response to a recent intercontinental ballistic missile test, and it was hoped that by launching an economic punishment the government would slow down its attempts to develop nuclear weapons.
But the country hit back angrily, saying that the sanctions had strengthened its resolve and that it would look to strike against the US and the other countries who had supported the vote.
The UN resolution seeks to ban nearly 90 per cent of refined petroleum exports to North Korea by capping them at 500,000 barrels a year and, in a last-minute change, demands the repatriation of North Koreans working abroad within 24 months, instead of 12 months as first proposed.
The US-drafted resolution also caps crude oil supplies to North Korea at 4 million barrels a year, and commits the Council to further reductions if it were to conduct another nuclear test or launch another ICBM.
In a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency, North Korea’s foreign ministry said the US was terrified by its nuclear force and was getting “more and more frenzied in the moves to impose the harshest-ever sanctions and pressure on our country”.
The new resolution is tantamount to a complete economic blockade of North Korea, the ministry said.
“We define this ‘sanctions resolution’, rigged up by the US and its followers, as a grave infringement upon the sovereignty of our Republic, as an act of war violating peace and stability in the Korean peninsula and the region and categorically reject the ‘resolution’.”
On 29 November, North Korea said it successfully tested a new ICBM that put the US mainland within range of its nuclear weapons.
Its foreign ministry added that North Korea’s nuclear weapons are a self-defensive deterrence not in contradiction of international law.
“We will further consolidate our self-defensive nuclear deterrence aimed at fundamentally eradicating the US nuclear threats, blackmail and hostile moves by establishing the practical balance of force with the US,” the ministry said.
“The US should not forget even a second the entity of the DPRK, which rapidly emerged as a strategic state capable of posing a substantial nuclear threat to the US mainland,” it added, using the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
North Korea said those who voted for the sanctions would face Pyongyang’s wrath.
“Those countries that raised their hands in favour of this ‘sanctions resolution’ shall be held completely responsible for all the consequences to be caused by the ‘resolution’ and we will make sure for ever and ever that they pay heavy price for what they have done.”
Tension has been rising over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes, which it pursues in defiance of years of UN Security Council resolutions, with bellicose rhetoric coming from both Pyongyang and the White House.
In November, North Korea demanded a halt to what it called “brutal sanctions”, saying a round imposed after its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on 3 September constituted genocide.
US diplomats have made clear they are seeking a diplomatic solution but proposed the new, tougher sanctions resolution to ratchet up pressure on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
China, with which North Korea does some 90 per cent of its trade, has repeatedly called for calm and restraint from all sides.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that the new resolution also reiterated the need for a peaceful resolution via talks, and that all sides needed to take steps to reduce tensions.
Widely read Chinese state-run tabloid, the Global Times, said that the tougher resolution was aimed at preventing war, and noted the US had compromised with no indication that the UN could grant it permission for military action.
“The difference between the new resolution and the original US proposal reflects the will of China and Russia to prevent war and chaos on the Korean Peninsula. If the US proposals were accepted, only war is foreseeable,” it said in an editorial.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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