North Korea defiant over U.N. sanctions as Trump says tougher steps needed

Trump waits to greet Malaysia's Najib at the White House in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump waits to greet Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak at the White House in Washington, U.S. September 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

September 13, 2017

By Jack Kim and Roberta Rampton

SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – North Korea displayed trademark defiance on Wednesday over new United Nations sanctions imposed after its sixth and largest-ever nuclear test, vowing to redouble efforts to fight off what it said was the threat of a U.S. invasion.

U.S. President Donald Trump said the sanctions, unanimously agreed on Monday by the 15-member U.N. Security Council, were just a small step toward what is ultimately needed to rein in Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programs.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said the resolutions were an infringement on its legitimate right to self-defense and aimed at “completely suffocating its state and people through full-scale economic blockade”.

“The DPRK will redouble the efforts to increase its strength to safeguard the country’s sovereignty and right to existence and to preserve peace and security of the region by establishing the practical equilibrium with the U.S.,” it said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is North Korea’s official name.

The statement echoed comments on Tuesday by DPRK’s Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Han Tae Song, who said Pyongyang was “ready to use a form of ultimate means”.

“The forthcoming measures … will make the U.S. suffer the greatest pain it ever experienced in its history,” Han said.

The North’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper also accused South Korea of being Washington’s “puppet”, criticizing Seoul’s agreement with the United States to amend an existing bilateral guideline that will now allow the South to use unlimited warhead payloads on its missiles.

The U.N. Security Council agreed to tighten sanctions on North Korea, banning its textile exports and capping fuel supplies, and making it illegal for foreign firms to form commercial joint ventures with North Korean entities.

The U.N. resolution was triggered by North Korea’s test of what it said was a hydrogen bomb.

Damage to mountainous terrain at the North’s nuclear test site in Punggye-ri seen in satellite imagery taken after the latest test was more extensive than anything seen after the five previous tests, said 38 North, a Washington-based project which monitors North Korea.

There was also activity at another location in the Mount Mantap site involving large vehicles and mining equipment that suggests “onsite work could now be changing focus to further prepare those other portals for future underground nuclear testing”, 38 North said.

The North accuses the United States, which has 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, of continual plans for invasion.

North Korea has also tested a missile capable of reaching the United States, but experts say it is likely to be at least a year before it can field an operational nuclear missile that could threaten the U.S. mainland.

A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said intelligence agencies had observed North Korea moving a mobile missile launcher in the past 48 hours which could potentially indicate a possible missile launch by the North in the coming days.

The official did not comment on the location or the type of missile, but emphasized that while a launch was possible, North Korea could simply be moving the launcher.

ANOTHER SMALL STEP

Trump has vowed not to allow that to happen.

A tougher initial U.S. draft resolution was weakened to win the support of China and Russia, both of which hold veto power on the U.N. Security Council. Significantly, it stopped short of imposing a full embargo on oil exports to North Korea, most of which come from China.

“We think it’s just another very small step, not a big deal,” Trump told reporters at the start of a Tuesday meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

“I don’t know if it has any impact, but certainly it was nice to get a 15-to-nothing vote, but those sanctions are nothing compared to what ultimately will have to happen.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also warned China, North Korea’s main ally and trading partner, that Washington would “put additional sanctions on them and prevent them from accessing the U.S. and international dollar system” if it did not follow through on the new measures.

Another senior administration official told Reuters that any such “secondary sanctions” on Chinese banks and other companies were on hold for now to give Beijing time to show it was prepared to fully enforce the latest and previous rounds of sanctions.

Washington has so far mostly held off on new sanctions against Chinese banks and other companies doing business with North Korea, given fears of retaliation by Beijing and possibly far-reaching effects on the world economy.

Russia and China both say they respect U.N. sanctions and have called on the United States to return to negotiations with North Korea. They have also said they could kick-start talks with North Korea if the United States halts joint military drills with South Korea, which Washington has rejected.

An article carried on the front page of the People’s Daily, the official paper of China’s ruling Communist Party, said the Korean Peninsula had reached the “moment of choice” where the United States and North Korea must break from the cycle of nuclear tests and sanctions.

“All parties involved in the peninsula have their own strategic considerations, but not being able to see beyond this vicious cycle is not in anyone’s interest,” the article said.

Asked about the North Korean and U.S. rhetoric, China’s Foreign Ministry reiterated a call for restraint and a return to dialogue.

“We hope all relevant parties can be rational and maintain restraint and not take actions that could further increase tensions on the peninsula”, ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular briefing.

In another show of force, South Korea’s Air Force conducted its first live-fire exercise of Taurus long-range, air-to-surface missiles on Tuesday, the Defence Ministry said, as practice for precision bombing North Korean facilities.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the new sanctions could eventually starve North Korea of an additional $500 million or more in annual revenue.

The United States has said that a previous round of sanctions agreed in August was aimed at cutting North Korea’s $3 billion in exports by a third.

(Additional reporting by Christine Kim and Yuna Park in SEOUL, Michael Martina and Christian Shepherd in BEIJING, and Roberta Rampton, David Brunnstrom and Idrees Ali in WASHINGTON; editing by Lincoln Feast, Paul Tait, Nick Macfie and G Crosse)

  • Tango Uniform

    At this point, sanctions and dialogue are for liberal losers. It’s time to put steel on target and shack the whole country.

  • Tado

    If the North Korean people suffers and starves – as a direct consequence of sanctions, America should be blamed.

  • Lawmadsen

    I don’t know why the press isn’t mentioning that Trump negotiated with 2 of NKorea’s largest economic allies (Egypt & Malaysia) and today got them to cut off NKorea entirely. These reports are not specific enough, every time they mention “more sanctions” what it means is that Trumps economic muscle is flexing like a boa constrictor on kim getting tighter each time, it will probably still end with a military action but these are not empty statements like you got used to hearing over the last 8 years, this is hurting kim.

  • Javanne

    More threats from Trump, another “all options are on the table” comment from Sanders, and another useless resolution from the UN (does anyone thing a flag state like North Korea will consent to an inspection of a NK-flagged ship carrying contraband?). Talk and pointless resolutions are cheap. When will they learn? After NK mushroom clouds sprout?

  • just me

    It’s been going on for 64 yes it’s TIME to stop this endless and USELESS political BS!
    How much that cost us and the world?
    Build up our allyes and go for it!
    Don’t leave a second for them to breathe or Come up for air!
    Just get it donne and END IT FOR GOOD!

  • Okie

    nuke the little turd

  • rod rodman

    no central bank in NK. agenda?

  • ginjit.dw

    More sanctions!!! What a huge waste of time and money.

  • Javanne

    Another watered-down resolution. What will Trump and Haley do when it is clear that it changed nothing?

  • Comanche457

    To hell with the Walmart shoppers.

  • CCTexas

    Richard Nephew, we do not lack vision. Sanctions do not work. Guns and missiles do. Al;l you people want to do is talk while humans suffer. You sit there talking while the average North Korean starves. Send some missiles, put our troops on the ground and take control. China does not like it? Too bad. Bama Boy had the US Government buy enough bullets to put a stop to any Communist Chinese Crying.

    • deplorable jmc

      but cutting off all funding works better than guns and bombs. Especially when you go after the suppliers — China and Russia. Some reports floating around that Iran is supplying nukes…

      • CCTexas

        He can fund himself through his masters. Cutting off funding will never work. Just a bunch of talk. Get in their and do the job, waiting for him to kill us is a very bad plan.

  • Margaret Keller

    I hope the more sanctions work .

    • hobartneck

      I hear you. Unfortunately, the past teaches us differently…

  • Anationundersiege

    After the lousy deal oblunder and company made with Iran, it is no wonder NK thought they could get away with the same treatment. They just thought it would be the hag giving them what they want! A President Trump is not what they planned on!!!

  • RMCS Ret.

    Meanwhile, Russia and China have both told NK to knock off the nuclear nonsense. Understandable, the last thing they need is nuclear fallout from NK. As early as yesterday Russia has deployed troops on the NK border. This, after Putin stated sanctions and talks won’t work. The Chinese, have bolstered their defenses on the NK border and been conductions exercises in the Bohai sea and straights (North Yellow Sea) which borders on NK. Kim may have just ticked off his last “friends” on earth. Both countries have told both NK and the US not to start anything, but it looks like they have some coordinated plan to deal with NK.

    • CCTexas

      The question is, who are those troops for? The NK or US in case we invade?

  • Fed Up !

    I think it is fitting that NK’s real name begins with democrat-ick, lol

  • Resist_Tyranny

    The “security council” is made up of Obama and Hillary operatives… oh, and they don’t run anything:)

  • AtomicFury

    What a bunch of weak-kneed cowards. Lil’ Kim already backed down once from his own rhetoric.

  • Treeherder

    Both China and Russia have never gotten serious about the North Korean problem, because it ties up American military forces, and finances. It makes America look weak too. It is in China and Russia’s best interest to have American resources drain away on this BS while they expand elsewhere.

    We NEED sanctions on Chinese imports to the US. We NEED corporate tax reform to pull US companies out of China, and back to the US.

    Six Nuke test in South Korea in what…..two years time. Environmental damage. The “Fearless Leader” over their is lighting that stuff off like fire crackers. What a buffoon. I wonder what the Rad count is in the small farming areas around there.

  • Clyde

    Allowing russia and china a seat at the table renders an already useless body inept.

    • deplorable jmc

      and allowing Russia and China to “edit” the proposed sanctions is counterproductive — at best.

      • Clyde

        Because they have veto power the un is even more hapless the ever.

        • deplorable jmc

          SO TRUE

  • Philo Beddoe

    Tell the chinese to go scratch. They have alot to lose financially. The free, non communist world is keeping china afloat.

  • Blacksheep The Deplorable

    Why can’t the people leaving comments here get past the BS that North Korea is a separate nation? North Korea is as much a part of China as Alaska is part of the United States. That Korean War we fought in? Those were Chinese troops. Those were Russian Migs that the Chinese bought and flew. That was Chinese artillary. I was a teenager at that time. I remember it all just fine.
    NORTH KOREA IS CHINA. Kim Jong Un runs that puppet state under Chinese orders. We are being threatened by China. Why the hell do you think Pres. Trump is telling the Chinese that he’ll cut off trade if they don’t rein in their puppet? Hello?

    • Sonny Shaw

      The Mig 15’s were Russian and so were some a lot of the pilots. The Korean War never ended with a peace treaty. The Korean war can heat up again because all parties only signed an Armistice or cease fire agreement. What bothers me is the UN; it does little to discipline member states, the UN doesn’t even hold member states responsible for their behavior at the UN let alone on the world stage..Your are 100% right about China and Russia though they are the puppet masters behind all this…

  • First, destroy his space satellites. China needs to step up if they don’t want us bombing him.

  • Mark

    This idiot needs to learn that he only has one move. And when he makes it, there will be no more Norks.
    Even if he is lucky enough to EMP America, he will not take out our subs, and surface ships. So we outlast him, and Kim Sum Ting Wong will be just a doofus in the history books.

    • Ronny boy

      I agree, he is a dummy…..civil and social issues….

    • Phil M. Kelley

      Don’t be quite so cavalier about it. The outcome of such a war is not in doubt, but there will still be hundreds of thousands, if not millions, dead, mostly in South Korea. Remember that there are 80k US troops in harm’s way as well

      • Mark

        Pre-zactly! He is using those victims you just mentioned as hostages. I say fukc em up, and fukc em up fast, and with all known weapons as simultaneously as is possible.
        And I say that knowing full well that every war game they have ever run on the matter ends in a nuclear exchange. We should EMP them. It won’t hurt the populace. They don’t have electricity. And go for the artillery. Shock and awe bro. Scare them from being able to perform.

        • Phil M. Kelley

          An EMP which would hamstring Pyongyang is likely to affect Seoul as well, not to mention that the EMP would wreak havoc with the ability of our 80k troops to communicate. Your idea has merit, but any way we slice it, this is going to get messy.

  • A marcus Young

    He should not have crossed President Trump. That was a mistake.

    • R A.

      And he’s not crossed him just once, he’s crossed him multiple times.
      One or two more times, then…..Oh well

      • Blacksheep The Deplorable

        Smirking idiot, you don’t have a clue.

        • R A.

          Hi Hillary. Have you started on your next book of lies and delusion?