REUTERS: The U.N. Security Council unanimously voted to step up sanctions on North Korea, with its profitable textile exports now banned and fuel supplies capped, prompting a traditionally defiant threat of retaliation against the United States.
Monday’s decision, triggered by the North’s sixth and largest nuclear test this month, was the ninth such resolution unanimously adopted by the 15-member Security Council since 2006 over North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programmes.
Japan and South Korea said after the passage of the U.S.-drafted Security Council resolution they were prepared to apply more pressure if North Korea refused to end its aggressive development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
A tougher initial U.S. draft was weakened to win the support of China, Pyongyang’s main ally and trading partner, and Russia, both of which hold veto power in the council.
”We don’t take pleasure in further strengthening sanctions today. We are not looking for war,“ U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the council after the vote. ”The North Korean regime has not yet passed the point of no return.
“If it agrees to stop its nuclear programme, it can reclaim its future … If North Korea continues its dangerous path, we will continue with further pressure,” said Haley, who credited a “strong relationship” between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping for the successful resolution negotiations.
North Korea’s ambassador, Han Tae Song, told the U.N.-sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Tuesday the United States was “fired up for political, economic, and military confrontation”.
The North regularly threatens to destroy the South and its main ally, the United States, which it accuses of continual preparation for invasion.
“My delegation condemns in the strongest terms, and categorically rejects, the latest illegal and unlawful U.N. Security Council resolution,” he said.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was “ready to use a form of ultimate means”, Han said, without elaborating.
“The forthcoming measures by DPRK will make the U.S. suffer the greatest pain it ever experienced in its history.”
U.S. disarmament ambassador Robert Wood took the floor to say the Security Council resolution “frankly sent a very clear and unambiguous message to the regime that the international community is tired, is no longer willing to put up with provocative behaviour from this regime”.
U.N. member states are now required to halt imports of textiles from North Korea, its second largest export after coal and other minerals in 2016 that totalled $752 million and accounted for a quarter of its income from trade, according to South Korean data. Nearly 80 percent went to China.
“This resolution also puts an end to the regime making money from the 93,000 North Korean citizens it sends overseas to work and heavily taxes,” Haley said.
“This ban will eventually starve the regime of an additional $500 million or more in annual revenues,” she said.