Despite Sanctions, North Korea Vows To Boost Weapons Programmes

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Updated September 13, 2017
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This undated picture released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) looking at a metal casing with two bulges at an undisclosed location. STR / KCNA VIA KNS / AFP

North Korea has on Wednesday vowed to accelerate its weapons programmes in response to “evil” sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council following its latest and most powerful nuclear test.

The respected 38 North website in the US raised its estimate for the yield from the explosion, which Pyongyang says was a hydrogen bomb small enough to fit onto a missile, to around 250 kilotons — more than 16 times the size of the device that devastated Hiroshima in 1945.

The detonation, Pyongyang’s sixth nuclear blast, prompted global condemnation and came after it carried out two intercontinental ballistic missile launches in July that appeared to bring much of the US into range.

The UN Security Council unanimously imposed the eighth set of sanctions on North Korea, on Monday, banning it from trading in textiles and restricting its oil imports, which US President Donald Trump said was a prelude to stronger measures.

The resolution, passed after Washington toned down its original proposals to secure backing from China and Russia, this came just one month after the council banned exports of coal, lead and seafood in response to the ICBM launch.

In response, the North’s foreign ministry condemned the new measures “in the strongest terms”, calling them a “full-scale economic blockade” driven by the US and aimed at “suffocating” its state and people.

It was “another illegal and evil ‘resolution on sanctions’ piloted by the US”, it said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

“The DPRK will redouble the efforts to increase its strength to safeguard the country’s sovereignty and right to existence,” the ministry said, using the abbreviation for the North’s official name.

But the South’s unification ministry described the statement as “the most low-key form of response from North Korea to UN Security Council resolutions”.

The US and its allies argue that tougher sanctions will pile pressure on North Korea to negotiate an end to its weapons programmes but experts are skeptical.

US President Donald Trump said the latest measures were a “very small step – not a big deal” that must lead to tougher measures.

“Those sanctions are nothing compared to ultimately what will happen,” Trump said, but added that it was “nice to get a 15 to nothing vote”.

According to the US mission to the United Nations, the North imports around 8.5 million barrels a year of oil and oil products, 4 million as crude and 4.5 million in refined form, which includes substances such as petrol and diesel.

It added that the North’s textile exports averaged $760 million a year.

The UN resolution also barred countries from issuing new authorisations to North Korean workers sent abroad. There are almost 100,000 of them, according to the US mission, earning more than $500 million a year for the regime.

Under the measure, joint ventures with North Korean entities are prohibited, while governments are authorised to inspect ships suspected of carrying banned cargo from the country, but must first seek the consent of the vessels’ flag state.

AFP