SEOUL, South Korea – In what became the first of its kind resolution against North Korea, agreed by both the United States and China since U.S. President Donald Trump took office, the UN Security Council expanded targeted sanctions on the reclusive nation.
The sanctions came in light of North Korea’s repeated missile tests, seen as a provocation by South Korea, Japan, the U.S., Russia and even its only major ally, China.
However, days after the sanctions were slapped on the hermit kingdom, North Korea has now retorted back.
The country issued a statement on its official KCNA news agency on Sunday, indicating that the sanctions were having an antithetical effect on the country’s nuclear ambitions.
Claiming that it “fully rejects” the latest round of sanctions against its citizens and entities, North Korea’s foreign ministry spokesman said the sanctions resolution “is a crafty hostile act with the purpose of putting a curb on the DPRK’s ( the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the North’s official name) buildup of nuclear forces, disarming it and causing economic suffocation to it.”
The spokesman added, “Whatever sanctions and pressure may follow, we will not flinch from the road to build up nuclear forces which was chosen to defend the sovereignty of the country and the rights to national existence and will move forward towards the final victory.”
Adding, “(Washington) talked about the possibility of dialogue but it is nonsense to mention dialogue while laying out unfair preconditions and applying maximum pressure.”
UN Security Council resolutions against North Korea date back to 2006, when it conducted its first nuclear test.
Since then, North Korea has rejected all similar sanctions that followed as the country pursued its nuclear weapons programme and conducted more and more missile tests, claiming it was protecting itself against American provocations.
The Kim Jong Un-led regime has also claimed that the moves directly infringe its sovereign right to self-defense.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has all along maintained that it doesn’t intend to engage in war with North Korea, while at the same time it has increased its military backing in the region consistently over the years, in support of its ally, South Korea that faces a more direct threat from its rebellious and provocative neighbour.
Yet, the U.S. has consistently failed to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, that has advanced more effectively over the last two years, with more sophisticated missiles now featuring in its arsenal.
Donald Trump’s administration has taken a more confrontational approach with North Korea, even threatening earlier in March that all options, including military action was on the table in dealing with North’s provocations.
North Korea meanwhile welcomed Trump to the world stage, with a vow to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.
In recent weeks, North Korea has tested three missiles and experts analyzing these tests have revealed that North Korea might be acting more swiftly than previously believed, on its vow to prepare to strike the U.S.
The U.S. in response has sent its armada, a strike group, led by the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier to the region as show of its might, that was later joined by USS Michigan, a nuclear-powered Ohio class submarine – one of the four U.S. Navy subs that is armed with tactical missiles and equipped with superior communications capabilities.
The USS Michigan, that can carry up to 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles, was deployed to send a strong message to Pyongyang.
At the same time, the Trump administration has been pressing China aggressively to rein in its reclusive neighbor.
After the sanctions were issued on Friday, North Korea blamed the United States and China for “railroading and enforcing” the sanctions resolution at the UN Security Council “after having drafted it in the backroom at their own pleasure.”
The North Korean official said, “It is a fatal miscalculation if the countries… would even think that they can delay or hold in check the eye-opening development of the (North’s) nuclear forces even for a moment.”
The names of North Korean people and firms added to the UN blacklist would face a global travel ban and asset freeze, making the listings more symbolic given the isolated nature of official North Korean entities and the sophisticated network of front companies used by Pyongyang to evade current sanctions.
The resolution puts North Korea’s suspected spy chief, 13 other Pyongyang officials and four entities on a sanctions blacklist.
The United States military confirmed on Tuesday last week that it “successfully intercepted an intercontinental ballistic missile target” in a test conducted amid concerns over the North’s weapons program.
North Korea also successful test-fired its most recent ballistic missile last week
Meanwhile, at the 16th Shangri-La Dialogue, China said on Sunday that it was urging the adoption of diplomatic means instead of military or economic punishment to finally solve the nuclear threat on the Korean Peninsula.
The three-day Shangri-La Dialogue organized by the IISS brought together senior military officials, diplomats and experts from over 30 countries.