N. Korea says U.S. isn’t safe

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Jonathan Kaiman

BEI­JING — North Korean state me­dia said Monday that the United States will “pay dearly” for a round of strict sanc­tions ap­proved by the United Na­tions over the week­end, sug­gest­ing that Py­ongyang re­mains com­mit­ted to its nu­clear am­bi­tions and will­ing to bear the eco­nomic costs.

“There is no big­ger mis­take than the United States be­liev­ing that its land is safe across the ocean,” the iso­lated coun­try’s state-run Korean Cen­tral News Agency said in a state­ment.

The United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil on Satur­day voted on a new round of sanc­tions tar­get­ing North Korea’s pri­mary ex­ports, in­clud­ing iron, coal and seafood — to­gether worth

about $1 bil­lion — in re­tal­i­a­tion for its mis­sile tests.

Py­ongyang has tested 14 mis­siles this year, in­clud­ing two in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles in July, show­cas­ing its tech­ni­cal abil­ity to launch a strike on parts of the U.S., in­clud­ing Alaska, Los An­ge­les and Chicago.

The sanc­tions could slash North Korea’s an­nual ex­port rev­enue, to­tal­ing an es­ti­mated $3 bil­lion, by more than a third, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from the of­fice of Nikki Haley, the U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions.

Pres­i­dent Trump, on Twit­ter, called the res­o­lu­tion the “sin­gle largest eco­nomic sanc­tions pack­age ever on North Korea.”

Yet North Korea’s state­ment Monday il­lus­trates the de­gree to which Kim Jong Un, the coun­try’s ruler, prizes the coun­try’s nu­clear and mis­sile pro­grams as cru­cial de­ter­rents against the United States and points of na­tional pride.

“This U.N. ‘sanc­tions res­o­lu­tion,’ to all in­tents and pur­poses, is an out­come of di­a­bol­i­cal at­tempts of the U.S. to iso­late and sti­fle the DPRK,” the news agency said, us­ing the ini­tials of the coun­try’s of­fi­cial name, the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea. The U.S. “is try­ing to drive the sit­u­a­tion of the Korean penin­sula to the brink of nu­clear war,” it said.

Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son, speak­ing to re­porters at a re­gional con­fer­ence in Manila on Monday, said the U.S. would be will­ing to dis­cuss de­nu­cle­ariza­tion with North Korea “when con­di­tions are right.”

“The best sig­nal that North Korea could give us that they’re pre­pared to talk would be to stop these mis­sile launches,” he said.

South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in — an­other sup­porter of the lat­est sanc­tions — has also sig­naled a will­ing­ness to talk.

In a phone call with Trump on Sun­day evening, Moon “af­firmed that North Korea poses a grave and grow­ing di­rect threat to the United States, South Korea and Ja­pan, as well as to most coun­tries around the world,” ac­cord­ing to the White House.

North Korea’s top diplo­mat, Ri Yong Ho, also at­tended the Manila con­fer­ence. Rather than ad­dress re­porters, his spokesman dis­trib­uted a tran­script of a speech that Ri had de­liv­ered ear­lier in which he said that North Korea doesn’t in­tend to use nu­clear weapons against any coun­try “ex­cept the U.S.”

North Korea is “ready to teach the U.S. a se­vere les­son with its nu­clear strate­gic force,” Ri said, ac­cord­ing to the As­so­ci­ated Press.

Trump has leaned heav­ily on China to curb North Korea’s nu­clear am­bi­tions. Al­though China voted for the res­o­lu­tion Satur­day, it has warned that sanc­tions alone will not dampen Py­ongyang’s re­solve.

“Sanc­tions are nec­es­sary but in no way the ul­ti­mate pur­pose,” Chi­nese For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi said Monday at the Assn. of South­east Asian Na­tions sum­mit, the con­fer­ence in Manila. “Im­pos­ing fresh sanc­tions is aimed at bring­ing the co­nun­drum back to the ne­go­ti­a­tion ta­ble. We would like to urge other par­ties like the United States and South Korea to stop in­creas­ing ten­sions.”

The U.N.’s lat­est sanc­tions crack down on other sources of hard cur­rency for Py­ongyang; they tar­get North Korean banks and ban joint ven­tures with North Korean com­pa­nies.

Yet whether the sanc­tions will be ef­fec­tive re­mains un­clear. China has al­ready cut coal im­ports from North Korea un­til the end of the year, and North Korean state-run com­pa­nies have proved adept at ex­port­ing other com­modi­ties, de­spite harsh in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions.

The res­o­lu­tion “is be­ing over­sold and is un­likely to pro­duce the kind of eco­nomic dam­age that its spon­sors are ad­ver­tis­ing,” Joseph DeThomas, a pro­fes­sor at the Penn­syl­va­nia State Univer­sity School of In­ter­na­tional Af­fairs, wrote on 38 North, a re­spected North Korea-mon­i­tor­ing web­site.

“More­over, it opens new doors for suc­cess­ful eva­sion, which in the cur­rent en­vi­ron­ment — with a volatile U.S. ad­min­is­tra­tion and high pub­lic alarm — could eas­ily lead to sud­den move­ments to­wards very dan­ger­ous over­re­ac­tions.”

An­a­lysts say North Korea is pre­par­ing to con­duct its sixth nu­clear test and could soon have the ca­pa­bil­ity to fit a minia­tur­ized nu­clear weapon onto a lon­grange mis­sile.

North Korea “ap­par­ently views be­ing able to threaten the U.S. main­land with a nu­clear coun­ter­strike as the ul­ti­mate deter­rent,” Siegfried S. Hecker, a former di­rec­tor of the Los Alamos Na­tional Lab­o­ra­tory who has vis­ited North Korea sev­eral times, told the Bul­letin of the Atomic Sci­en­tists.

“It also likely has a po­lit­i­cal goal, to get Wash­ing­ton to the ta­ble on what Py­ongyang would see as a more equal ba­sis.”

Mary Altaffer As­so­ci­ated Press

U.S. AM­BAS­SADOR to the U.N. Nikki Haley and Bri­tish Am­bas­sador Matthew Ry­croft vote Satur­day for the sanc­tions res­o­lu­tion, which North Korea called “an out­come of di­a­bol­i­cal at­tempts of the U.S.”

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