North Korea rejected the latest round of United Nations sanctions on the isolated state, and vowed to accelerate its plans to acquire a nuclear weapon that can strike the U.S. homeland.
In its first official response to the new resolution, North Korea’s foreign ministry released a statement on state-run media saying the sanctions justified its nuclear push and strengthened its will to “follow this road at a faster pace without the slightest diversion until this fight to the finish is over.”
“The adoption of another illegal and evil ‘resolution on sanctions’ piloted by the U.S. served as an occasion for the DPRK to verify that the road it chose to go down was absolutely right,” the ministry said, according to the Korean Central News Agency. “The DPRK will redouble the efforts to increase its strength to safeguard the country’s sovereignty and right to existence,” KCNA said, using the country’s formal name.
The comments come as the world awaits Kim’s next move. South Korea said Tuesday that the isolated state remained technically prepared to perform a nuclear test, and analysts say that he may launch a missile in the next few days. The international community is split on how to deal with Kim’s provocations, with the U.S. having watered down sanctions to get China and Russia — the biggest economic patrons of North Korea — on board.
The UN Security Council on Monday agreed to a set of new sanctions including banning textile exports from the country and capping imports of refined petroleum as a way to punish Pyongyang for conducting its sixth and most powerful nuclear test Sept. 3. The U.S. estimated that the measures would cut the country’s revenues by $1.3 billion and slash its oil supply by 30 percent.
The final version of the sanctions fell short of U.S.’s draft proposal that called for a complete oil-supply ban and freeze of Kim’s assets abroad. China and Russia — North Korea’s two biggest allies with veto power at the Security Council — objected to the more stringent penalties.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned on Tuesday that China could face additional sanctions from the U.S. if it didn’t follow through with the UN resolution.
“If China doesn’t follow these sanctions, we will put additional sanctions on them and prevent them from accessing the U.S. and international dollar system — and that’s quite meaningful,” Mnuchin said during an event at CNBC’s Delivering Alpha conference in New York.
Trump China Trip
Amid heightened tensions in the region, U.S. President Donald Trump will visit China in November, a person familiar with his plans said. The Seoul Economic Daily said South Korea and the U.S. are discussing a Trump trip to Seoul that month, and the Asahi newspaper reported that the president would also visit Japan.
Trump also plans to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Sept. 21 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper reported.
In an interview with the Nikkei newspaper, Abe said that Japan was in agreement with the U.S. and South Korea that dialogue would only be possible when North Korea committed to complete and verifiable denuclearization. Speaking to reporters at Tokyo’s Haneda airport before departing for India, Abe said the international community must enforce the latest round of sanctions.
Since the test of what North Korea claims was a hydrogen bomb, neighboring countries and the U.S. have been closely watching for possible further provocations by Kim. South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon had earlier warned that Kim would launch an intercontinental ballistic missile around the regime’s founding anniversary on Sept. 9.
While Pyongyang hasn’t yet responded with another nuclear or missile test, it was still technically ready to conduct its seventh nuclear test at its Punggye-ri test site, according to South Korea’s military.
An analysis of commercial satellite imagery showed more activity near the site, suggesting North Korea could be preparing more nuclear tests, according to the 38 North website. North Korea has conducted one nuclear and more than a dozen missile tests so far this year.