North Korea’s senior envoy to a leading UN disarmament body says his country “categorically” rejects a Security Council resolution imposing new sanctions over its nuclear and missile programmes.
Han Tae Song also lashed out at the US during a plenary session of the UN’s Conference on Disarmament, saying Pyongyang denounces Washington’s “evil intention” and would “make sure the US pays a due price”.
The comments came as North Korea faced renewed criticism at the Geneva-based body of its recent ballistic missile and nuclear weapons tests.
The UN Security Council unanimously approved new sanctions in a watered-down resolution without an oil import ban or international asset freeze on the government and leader Kim Jong Un.
The resolution does ban North Korea from importing natural gas liquids and condensates, but it only caps Pyongyang’s imports of crude oil at the level of the last 12 months, and limits the import of refined petroleum products to two million barrels a year.
It also bans all textile exports and prohibits all countries from authorising new work permits for North Korean workers – two key sources of hard currency.
The watered-down resolution does not include sanctions the US wanted on North Korea’s national airline and the army, but US ambassador Nikki Haley told the council after the vote: “These are by far the strongest measures ever imposed on North Korea”.
She stressed: “These steps only work if all nations implement them completely and aggressively.”
Ms Haley noted the council was meeting on the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack.
In a clear message to North Korean threats to attack the US, she said: “We will never forget the lesson that those who have evil intentions must be confronted. “Today we are saying the world will never accept a nuclear armed North Korea.”
The final agreement was reached after negotiations between the US and China, the North’s ally and major trading partner. Ms Haley said the resolution never would have happened without the “strong relationship” between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
But its provisions are a significant climbdown from the tough sanctions the Trump administration proposed last Tuesday, especially on oil, where a complete ban could have crippled North Korea’s economy.