N. Korea vows to hasten nuclear push after UN ban

The US estimated that the measures would cut the country’s revenues by RM5.5b, slash its oil supply by 30%

By BLOOMBERG

SEOULIn its first official response to new United Nations (UN) sanctions, North Korea said it will accelerate its plans to acquire a nuclear weapon that can strike the US homeland.

The UN resolution verified that its push for nuclear weapons “was absolutely right” and strengthened its will to “follow this road at a faster pace without the slightest diversion until this fight to the finish is over”, North Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency on Tuesday. The country vowed to establish a “practical equilibrium” with the US, it said.

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 on Sept 3. The US estimated that the measures would cut the country’s revenues by US$1.3 billion (RM5.46 billion) and slash its oil supply by 30%.

The final version of the sanctions fell short of US’ 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 a veto right at the Security Council, objected to the more stringent penalties.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday warned China that it could face additional sanctions from the US if it doesn’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 US and international dollar system — and that’s quite meaningful,” Mnuchin said during an event at CNBC’s Delivering Alpha conference in New York.

Amid heightened tensions in the region, US President Donald Trump will visit China in November, a person familiar with his plans said. Japan’s Asahi Shimbun reported that the US and Japan are also arranging for Trump to visit Japan in November before he heads to Vietnam to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting on Nov 10-11.

Since the test of what North Korea claims was a hydrogen bomb, neighbouring countries and the US 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 is 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. — Bloomberg