North Korea: New U.N. Sanctions ‘An Act of War’

North Korea looms large over the Japanese budget
AFP/Toru YAMANAKA

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Sunday declaring the latest round of U.N. sanctions an “act of war” equivalent to a “complete economic blockade,” and threatening the safety of the United States unless it accepts North Korea as a nuclear nation.

“We define this ‘sanctions resolution’ rigged up by the U.S. and its followers as a grave infringement upon the sovereignty of our Republic, as an act of war violating peace and stability in the Korean peninsula and the region and categorically reject the ’resolution,’” said the Foreign Ministry statement.

“There is no more fatal blunder than the miscalculation that the U.S. and its followers could check by already worn-out ‘sanctions’ the victorious advance of our people who have brilliantly accomplished the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force,” the statement warned.

“If the U.S. wishes to live safely, it must abandon its hostile policy towards the DPRK and learn to co-exist with the country that has nuclear weapons and should wake up from its pipe dream of our country giving up nuclear weapons which we have developed and completed through all kinds of hardships,” the North Koreans added.

This was followed by a threatening reminder that North Korea is a “strategic state capable of posing a substantial nuclear threat to the U.S. mainland.”

The Foreign Ministry had some belligerent rhetoric left over for the other nations that voted in favor of the resolution, which passed with a unanimous approval in the United Nations Security Council, saying, “Those countries that raised their hands in favor of this ‘sanctions resolution’ shall be held completely responsible for all the consequences to be caused by the ‘resolution’ and we will make sure forever and ever that they pay heavy price for what they have done.”

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said on Friday that the new sanctions resolution “ratchets up the pressure on North Korea even further, building on our last resolution, which included the strongest sanctions ever imposed on them.”

“Previous resolutions banned 90 percent of North Korea’s exports. This resolution bans all remaining categories of major North Korean exports—a loss of nearly $250 million in revenue to the regime,” Haley explained. “Previous resolutions cracked down on smuggling of banned items like oil and coal. But sanctions evasion has continued. So this resolution closes the loopholes in the system and requires countries to seize and impound ships caught smuggling illicit goods.”

“Today’s resolution achieves an 89 percent total reduction of the Kim regime’s ability to import gasoline, diesel, and other refined products. And should the North Korean regime conduct another nuclear or ballistic missile test, this resolution commits the Security Council to take even further action. It sends the unambiguous message to Pyongyang that further defiance will invite further punishment and isolation,” she said.

Another provision of the new sanctions package requires all North Koreans working abroad to return home within 24 months. About 100,000 North Koreans work in other countries, under conditions decried by human rights organizations describe as virtual slavery, with most of the money they earn funneled back to Pyongyang as much-needed hard currency for the Kim regime.

Haley portrayed the new sanctions as a demonstration of the entire world’s resolve against North Korea’s nuclear provocations, offering particular thanks to the Chinese delegation for working with the United States on the measure. President Donald Trump hailed the 15-0 Security Council vote in favor of the sanctions as a message that “the world wants peace, not death.”

The unanimous Security Council vote was saluted as a remarkable diplomatic achievement by the Trump administration. Sen. Ben Cardin, the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said on Sunday that it was “great” to see China and Russia supporting the resolution, although it should be noted a few of the toughest measures were weakened to satisfy Russian complaints.

“That was a good move. That was a major accomplishment. I give our team a lot of credit for getting that done. They’re pretty strong additional sanctions to be imposed against North Korea because of their continued testing of ballistic missiles,” Cardin said.

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