North Korea says new UN sanctions are ‘act of war’
North Korea warned on Sunday that the latest round of United Nations sanctions were tantamount to an act of war and complete economic blockade, threatening punishment against supporters of the new measures.
Sunday’s statement was the culmination of the latest round of warmongering rhetoric between Pyongyang and Washington after US Defence Secretary James Mattis cautioned on Friday that “storm clouds are gathering” over the Korean peninsula while addressing a US Air Force base.
The UN security council unanimously voted to step up its sanctions against North Korea on Friday in retaliation against its most recent intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test in November 29, which it claimed was capable of carrying a nuclear weapon to the US mainland.
China, North Korea’s historical ally, and Russia both supported the resolution in an effort to prevent war, reported the Chinese state-run Global Times.
The US-drafted restrictions seek to ban nearly 90 per cent of refined petroleum exports to North Korea by capping them at 500,000 barrels a year and demand the repatriation of North Koreans earning remunerations abroad within 24 months, a change from an earlier proposal of 12 months.
The resolution also caps crude oil supplies to North Korea at 4 million barrels a year, and threatens to reduce the quantity even further if Pyongyang carries out another nuclear or ICBM test.
North Korea’s foreign ministry reacted in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency, accusing the US of being “terrified” of its nuclear force and of becoming “more and more frenzied” in its actions.
“We define this ‘sanctions resolution’ rigged up by the US 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,” it said.
The pariah regime continued that its nuclear weapons were a “self-defensive deterrence” to counter America’s “blackmail and hostile moves” and that those who voted for sanctions would face revenge.
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“Those countries that raised their hands in favour of this ‘sanctions resolution’ shall be held completely responsible for all the consequences…and we will make sure forever and ever that they pay a heavy price for what they have done,” the North Koreans threatened.
Earlier in the week, Pyongyang condemned President Donald Trump’s new national security strategy as a “criminal document” that seeks the “total subordination of the whole world to the interests of the US.”
Tension has been rising for months over North Korea’s ongoing nuclear and missile tests in defiance of UN security council resolutions.
Even as diplomats scrambled to find a solution to the nuclear standoff, US defence chief General James Mattis sounded an ominous warning that “storm clouds” were gathering and that the US military must be ready for war.
“My fine young soldiers, the only way our diplomats can speak with authority and be believed is if you’re ready to go,” Mr Mattis told soldiers and airmen at the 82nd Airborne Division’s Hall of Heroes, during a two-day pre-Christmas tour to greet troops.
North Korean missile ranges
The defence secretary did not forecast a conflict. However, his remarks come after the Telegraph revealed early last week that America is drawing up plans for a “bloody nose” military attack on North Korea to stop its nuclear weapons programme.
The White House has “dramatically” stepped up preparation for a military solution in recent months amid fears diplomacy is not working, well-placed sources said.
Meanwhile, American troops based in South Korea have been told to remain alert and report suspicious individuals after a recent spurt of North Korean propaganda leaflets have been found on US military bases.
“A significant number of North Korean propaganda leaflets and CDs were recently placed at strategic locations on multiple US military installations” across South Korea, the alert said.
“Given the number of foreign nationals with access to our military installations via employment, sponsorship, and partnership programmes, the potential for insider threat is always a reality,” it said.