N. Korea reacts with threats

Hit at U.S. hinted over sanc­tions

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Stung by oner­ous new sanc­tions from the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, North Korea on Mon­day threat­ened re­tal­i­a­tion “thou­sands of times” and hinted at a pos­si­ble at­tack on the United States.

In its first ma­jor re­sponse to the sanc­tions drafted by the United States and adopted Sat­ur­day, North Korea said it would never re­lin­quish its mis­sile and nu­clear ar­se­nals and called the penal­ties a pan­icky Amer­i­can-led re­sponse to its grow­ing mil­i­tary might.

The North Korean re­sponse, in state­ments from its of­fi­cial news agency, for­eign min­is­ter and U.N. mis­sion, sug­gested that the coun­try’s leader, Kim Jong Un, was dou­bling down on his goal of de­vel­op­ing a nu­clear-armed mis­sile that could hit the con­ti­nen­tal United States.

The warn­ings be­gan with a state­ment from

North Korea’s of­fi­cial news agency, threat­en­ing to make the United States “pay the price for its crime thou­sands of times,” re­fer­ring to the new sanc­tions.

“There is no big­ger mis­take than the United States be­liev­ing that its land is safe across the ocean,” the news agency said, call­ing the sanc­tions a “vi­o­lent in­fringe­ment of its sovereignty” that was caused by a “heinous U. S. plot to iso­late and sti­fle” the coun­try.

The North said it would take an un­spec­i­fied “res­o­lute ac­tion of jus­tice” and would never place its nu­clear pro­gram on the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble or “flinch an inch” from its push to strengthen its nu­clear de­ter­rence as long as U.S. hos­til­ity against North Korea per­sists.

North Korea’s for­eign min­is­ter, Ri Yong ho, echoed the hos­til­ity later in a state­ment re­leased at an an­nual meet­ing of for­eign min­is­ters of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions in Manila that also was at­tended by Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son.

Ri de­scribed North Korea’s mis­siles and nu­clear weapons as de­fen­sive mea­sures against what he called the threat of an­ni­hi­la­tion by the United States.

“We will, un­der no cir­cum­stances, put the nu­clear and bal­lis­tic mis­siles on the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble,” Ri said in the state­ment re­leased to re­porters at the con­fer­ence.

“Nei­ther shall we flinch even an inch from the road to bol­ster­ing up the nu­clear forces cho­sen by our­selves un­less the hos­tile pol­icy and nu­clear threat of the U. S. against the DPRK are fun­da­men­tally elim­i­nated,” Ri said, us­ing the ini­tials for the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea, the of­fi­cial name of North Korea.

The coun­try’s U.N. mis­sion also is­sued a lengthy state­ment de­nounc­ing the sanc­tions, which were meant to dis­suade North Korea from press­ing ahead with its mis­sile and nu­clear weapons pro­grams.

The state­ment called the sanc­tions, which in­clude pro­hi­bi­tions on North Korean ex­ports of coal, iron and seafood, “a fla­grant in­fringe­ment upon its sovereignty.”

North Korea’s U.N. mis­sion said the sanc­tions re­vealed that the United States and its al­lies, in­stead of ac­cept­ing North Korea and learn­ing to co­ex­ist with it, had be­come “more fren­zied and des­per­ate” over the coun­try’s grow­ing mil­i­tary strength.

“Watch­ing them go fran­tic only re­dou­bles the DPRK’s pride in the coun­try’s great might and reaf­firms its faith that the path it had cho­sen is the only way to sur­vive and pros­per,” the mis­sion’s state­ment said.

The state­ment also de­scribed the sanc­tions as “more heinous than ever, plac­ing a to­tal ban even on nor­mal trade ac­tiv­i­ties and eco­nomic ex­change,” and blamed the United States di­rectly, say­ing the mea­sures showed “its evil in­ten­tion to oblit­er­ate the ide­ol­ogy and sys­tem of the DPRK and ex­ter­mi­nate its peo­ple.”

Ridi­cul­ing the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil’s as­ser­tion that North Korea is a threat to in­ter­na­tional se­cu­rity, the state­ment called this a “gang­ster-like logic in­di­cat­ing that the rest of the world should ei­ther be­come U.S. colonies serv­ing its in­ter­ests or fall vic­tim to its ag­gres­sion.”

EN­FORC­ING PENAL­TIES

The re­sponse came two days af­ter the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil ap­proved the mea­sures in a 15-0 vote that left Kim bereft of any pow­er­ful sup­porter on the is­sue, in­clud­ing China, which helped the United States draft the new penal­ties.

Na­tions raced Mon­day to en­sure that North Korea’s big­gest trad­ing part­ners ac­tu­ally carry them out, an elu­sive task that has un­der­cut past at­tempts to strong-arm Py­ongyang into aban­don­ing its nu­clear weapons.

If en­forced, the mea­sures could lop an es­ti­mated $1 bil­lion an­nu­ally off North Korea’s mea­ger ex­port rev­enue of $3 bil­lion. The cen­ter­piece of the U.N. sanc­tions is a ban on North Korean ex­ports of coal, iron, lead and seafood prod­ucts.

The res­o­lu­tion was a di­rect re­sponse to North Korea’s suc­cess­ful tests last month of two in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles that for the first time demon­strated an abil­ity to reach the U.S. main­land.

The sanc­tions are the tough­est of the seven Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions adopted since 2006 aimed at curb­ing North Korea’s nu­clear mil­i­ta­riza­tion.

As Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­manded full and speedy im­ple­men­ta­tion of the new penal­ties, his top diplo­mat laid out a nar­row path for the North to re­turn to ne­go­ti­a­tions that could ul­ti­mately see sanc­tions lifted. Stop test­ing mis­siles for an “ex­tended pe­riod,” Tiller­son said, and the U.S. might deem North Korea ready to talk.

“This is not a ‘give me 30 days and we are ready to talk.’ It’s not quite that sim­ple. So it is all about how we see their at­ti­tude to­wards ap­proach­ing a di­a­logue with us.”

Even as they cel­e­brate a diplo­matic vic­tory in per­suad­ing China and Rus­sia to sign on to the new sanc­tions, the U.S. and other coun­tries are deeply con­cerned that fail­ure to rig­or­ously en­force them could sig­nif­i­cantly blunt their im­pact. Since the vote, Wash­ing­ton has put Bei­jing in par­tic­u­lar on no­tice that it’s watch­ing closely to en­sure China doesn’t re­peat its pat­tern of car­ry­ing out sanc­tions for a while, then re­turn­ing to busi­ness as usual with the pariah na­tion on its bor­der.

Al­ready, there are signs that na­tions with the strong­est ties to North Korea may fall short of the strin­gent en­force­ment that Trump and others seek. Although Rus­sia voted for the sanc­tions, its U.N. am­bas­sador, Vasily Neben­zya, told the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil that sanc­tions “can­not be a goal in it­self” and “shall not be used for eco­nomic stran­gling” of North Korea, ac­cord­ing to the Rus­sian state news agency Tass.

Still, the key con­cern is over China, the North’s eco­nomic life­line and big­gest trade part­ner.

John Delury, a China and North Korea ex­pert at Yon­sei Univer­sity in Seoul, noted that the Chi­nese pop­u­la­tion that lives along the 800-mile bor­der with North Korea is al­ready strug­gling fi­nan­cially. Trig­ger­ing an eco­nomic melt­down in North Korea would in­evitably pro­duce a spillover ef­fect in China, he said.

“They’re al­most go­ing from sanc­tions to em­bargo and re­ally try­ing to slam the North Korean econ­omy,” Delury said. “If you re­ally start to go down that path, I’m not sure how far the Chi­nese will go down with you.”

The other con­cern: that by the time the sanc­tions re­ally start cut­ting into the North’s econ­omy, po­ten­tially chang­ing the gov­ern­ment’s think­ing about the wis­dom of pur­su­ing nu­clear weapons, it may be too late.

Two un­prece­dented tests of in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles by North Korea last month were the lat­est signs that its weapons pro­gram is ap­proach­ing the point of no re­turn. While the North now boasts mis­siles it says can reach ma­jor U.S. ci­ties, it is not be­lieved to have mas­tered the abil­ity to cap them with nu­clear war­heads, but that step may not be far off.

Tiller­son con­ceded there would likely be a lag pe­riod be­fore the sanc­tions “ac­tu­ally have a prac­ti­cal bite on their rev­enues.”

“I think per­haps the more im­por­tant el­e­ment to that is just the mes­sage that this sends to North Korea about the un­ac­cept­abil­ity the en­tire in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity finds what they’re do­ing to be,” he said.

“We will, un­der no cir­cum­stances, put the nu­clear and bal­lis­tic mis­siles on the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble.”

— Ri Yong ho, North Korea’s for­eign min­is­ter

AP/AHN YOUNG-JOON

South Korean sol­diers pa­trol along the barbed-wire fence in Paju, South Korea, on Mon­day near the bor­der with North Korea.

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