Bans for bombs: US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley delivers remarks during a UN Security Council meeting in New York on Monday. Picture: REUTERS
Bans for bombs: US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley delivers remarks during a UN Security Council meeting in New York on Monday. Picture: REUTERS

The UN Security Council unanimously voted to step up sanctions on North Korea, with its profitable textile exports now banned and fuel supplies capped, prompting a threat of retaliation against the US.

Monday’s decision, triggered by the North’s sixth and largest nuclear test this month, was the ninth such resolution unanimously adopted by the Security Council since 2006 over North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programmes.

After the passage of the US-drafted Security Council resolution, Japan and South Korea said they were prepared to apply more pressure if North Korea refused to end its aggressive development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

A tougher initial US draft was weakened to win the support of China, Pyongyang’s main ally and trading partner, and Russia, both of which hold veto power in the council.

"We don’t take pleasure in further strengthening sanctions today. We are not looking for war," US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told the council after the vote. "The North Korean regime has not yet passed the point of no return.

"If it agrees to stop its nuclear programme, it can reclaim its future…. If North Korea continues its dangerous path, we will continue with further pressure," said Haley, who credited a "strong relationship" between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping for the successful resolution negotiations.

North Korea’s ambassador, Han Tae-song, told the UN-backed Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Tuesday the US was "fired up for political, economic and military confrontation". The North regularly threatens to destroy the South and its main ally, the US, which it accuses of continual preparation for invasion.

"My delegation condemns in the strongest terms, and categorically rejects, the latest illegal and unlawful UN Security Council resolution," he said.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was "ready to use a form of ultimate means", Han said.

"The forthcoming measures by DPRK will make the US suffer the greatest pain it ever experienced in its history."

UN member states are now required to halt textile imports from North Korea, its second-largest export in 2016 that totalled $752m and accounted for a quarter of its income from trade, according to South Korean data. About 80% went to China.

"This resolution also puts an end to the regime making money from the 93,000 North Korean citizens it sends overseas to work and heavily taxes," Haley said. The ban would "eventually starve the regime of an additional $500m or more in annual revenues", she said.

The resolution also imposes a ban on condensates and natural gas liquids, an annual cap of 2-million barrels on refined petroleum products and a cap on crude oil exports to North Korea at current levels. China supplies most of the crude.

Reuters

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