State­ment il­lus­trates how much Kim regime val­ues its mis­sile pro­gram

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Jonathan Kaiman

Com­mu­nist coun­try re­sponds to new round of sanc­tions tar­get­ing its pri­mary ex­ports.

BEI­JING» North Korean state me­dia said Mon­day the U.S. will “pay dearly” for a round of strict sanc­tions ap­proved by the United Na­tions dur­ing 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 re­peated 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 Don­ald Trump, on Twit­ter, called the res­o­lu­tion the “largest eco­nomic sanc­tions pack­age ever on North Korea.”

Yet North Korea’s Mon­day state­ment il­lus­trates the de­gree to which Kim Jong Un, the coun­try’s ruler, prizes the coun­try’s nu­clear and mis­sile pro­grams as a cru­cial de­ter­rent against the United States and a point 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 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, speak-

ing to re­porters at a re­gional con­fer­ence Mon­day in Manila, 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 — also has 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.

Trump has leaned heav­ily on China to curb North Korea’s nu­clear am­bi­tions. And 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. Im­pos­ing fresh sanc­tions is aimed at bring­ing the co­nun­drum back to the ne­go­ti­a­tion ta­ble,” China’s For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi said Mon­day at the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions Sum­mit, the con­fer­ence in Manila.

“We would like to urge other par­ties like the United States and South Korea to stop in­creas­ing ten­sions,” he said.

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.

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

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