North Korea voices defiance of sanctions as U.S. presses China.
U.S. presses China to follow through on vote
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA | North Korea vowed Monday to bolster its nuclear arsenal and exact a “thousand-fold” revenge against the United States in response to tough U.N. sanctions imposed following its recent intercontinental ballistic missile tests.
The warning came two days after the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved new sanctions to punish North Korea, including a ban on coal and other exports worth over $1 billion. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, called the U.S.-drafted resolution “the single largest economic sanctions package ever leveled against” North Korea.
In a statement carried by the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency, North Korea’s government said Monday that the sanctions were a “violent infringement of its sovereignty” that was caused by a “heinous U.S. plot to isolate and stifle” the country.
“We will make the U.S. pay by a thousand-fold for all the heinous crimes it commits against the state and people of this country,” the statement said.
The regime of President Kim Jongun 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 Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho made similar comments during an annual regional security conference in Manila on Monday.
South Korea’s government said the North would face stronger sanctions if it doesn’t stop its nuclear and missile provocation.
In a phone call requested by Seoul, Mr. Trump and newly installed South Korean President Moon Jae-in Sunday evening committed jointly to “fully implement all relevant resolutions and to urge the international community to do so as well,” the White House said. Mr. Moon’s office said that he and Mr. Trump had agreed to apply “the maximum pressure and sanction.”
As President 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,” Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said, and the U.S. might deem North Korea ready to talk.
“We’ll know it when we see it,” Mr. Tillerson said on the sidelines of a regional summit now underway in Manila. “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 cutting new sanctions, the U.S. and other countries are deeply concerned that failure to rigorously enforce them could significantly blunt their impact. Since Saturday’s U.N. Security Council 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.
Lim Eul Chul, a North Korea expert at South Korea’s Kyungnam University, said the comments by the North demonstrate how angry it is over the U.N. sanctions, but that the country is not likely to launch a pre-emptive strike against the United States. He said the North could still carry out further missile tests or a sixth atomic bomb test in the coming months under its broader weapons development timetable.
North Korea test-launched two ICBMs last month as part of its efforts to possess a long-range missile capable of striking anywhere in the mainland U.S. Both missiles were fired at highly lofted angles, and analysts say the weapons could reach parts of the United States such as Alaska, Los Angeles or Chicago if fired at a normal, flattened trajectory.
The centerpiece of the U.N. sanctions is a ban on North Korean exports of coal, iron, lead and seafood products — and a ban on all countries importing those products, estimated to be worth over $1 billion a year in hard currency. The resolution also bans countries from giving any additional permits to North Korean laborers, another source of foreign currency for the North, and prohibits all new joint ventures with North Korean companies.
Analysts say that North Korea, already under numerous U.N. and other international sanctions, will feel some pain from the new sanctions but is not likely to return to disarmament negotiations anytime soon because of them.
Mr. Lim, the North Korea expert, said the North will probably squeeze its ordinary citizens to help finance its nuclear and missile programs. Shin Beomchul of the Seoul-based Korea National Diplomatic Academy said sanctions that can force a change from North Korea would include a ban on China’s annual, mostly free shipment of 500,000 tons of crude oil to North Korea and the deporting by U.N. member-states of the tens of thousands of North Korean workers currently dispatched abroad.
The regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (left) blasted the tough U.N. sanctions imposed on the country. But Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson (center) expressed confidence in the U.N.’s vote. “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 is with us,” he said of North Korea.