North Korea‘s envoy to the UN has warned “forthcoming measures” will “make the US suffer the greatest pain” it has ever experienced.
Pyongyang’s ambassador, Han Tae Song, made the vitriolic comments at the UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is “ready to use a form of ultimate means”, Mr Han said, without elaborating.
He said: “The Washington regime fired up for political, economic, and military confrontation, [is] obsessed with the wild game of reversing the DPRK’s development of nuclear force which has already reached the completion phase.”
The Security Council unanimously approved new sanctions on North Korea, but not the toughest-ever measures sought by Donald Trump’s administration to ban all oil imports and freeze international assets of the government and its leader, Kim Jong-un.
“My hope is the regime will hear the message loud and clear and it will choose a different path,” US disarmament ambassador Robert Woods told the Geneva forum.
The resolution, adopted in response to Pyongyang’s sixth and strongest nuclear test explosion, bans North Korea from importing all natural gas liquids and condensates.
It also bans all textile exports and prohibits any country from authorising new work permits for North Korean workers – two key sources of hard currency for the northeast Asian nation.
As for energy, it caps Pyongyang’s imports of crude oil at the level of the last 12 months, and it limits the import of refined petroleum products to two million barrels a year.
The watered-down resolution does not include sanctions the US wanted on North Korea’s national airline and the army.
Nevertheless, US Ambassador Nikki Haley told the council after the vote that “these are by far the strongest measures ever imposed on North Korea”.
But she stressed that “these steps only work if all nations implement them completely and aggressively”.
Ms Haley noted the council was meeting on the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack. In a clear message to North Korean threats to attack the US, she said: “We will never forget the lesson that those who have evil intentions must be confronted.”
“Today we are saying the world will never accept a nuclear armed North Korea,” she said. “We are done trying to prod the regime to do the right thing” and instead are taking steps to prevent it “from doing the wrong thing”.
She said the US doesn’t take pleasure in strengthening sanctions and reiterated that the US does not want war.
“The North Korean regime has not yet passed the point of no return,” she said.
“If it agrees to stop its nuclear programme it can reclaim its future. If it proves it can live in peace, the world will live in peace with it... If North Korea continues its dangerous path, we will continue with further pressure.”
Britain’s UN ambassador, Matthew Rycroft, told reporters who questioned the watering down of the initial US text “there is a significant prize in keeping the whole of the Security Council united”.
Mr Rycroft called the resolution “a very significant set of additional sanctions”, declaring “we are tightening the screw, and we stand prepared to tighten it further”.
China and Russia had called for a resolution focused on a political solution to the escalating crisis over North Korea’s nuclear programme.
They have proposed a freeze-for-freeze which would halt North Korean nuclear and missile tests in exchange for the US and South Korea stopping their joint military exercises – something the Trump administration has rejected as a false equivalence.
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