The United Nations Security Council on Saturday imposed sharply increased economic sanctions on North Korea worth one-third of its annual $3 billion exports in an effort to rein in Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile program.
China, which holds enormous financial leverage against North Korea, joined the other members of the council in the 15-0 vote.
Nikki Haley, ambassador to the U.N. for the United States, which drafted the resolution, said the vote "put the North Korean dictator on notice" and represented a "strong, united step holding North Korea accountable for its behavior."
The sanctions, which target North Korea's foreign currency earnings, ban its exports of coal, coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood. It also prohibits countries from increasing the number of North Koreans working abroad and bans new joint ventures with the North as well as any new investment in current joint ventures.
In addition, the sanctions place nine individuals and four entities on the U.N. blacklist, including a global asset freeze and travel ban on North Korea's primary foreign exchange bank.
"It's going to hit hard but it's going to make a strong point to North Korea that all this ICBM and this nuclear irresponsibility has to stop." Haley said before entering the chamber to vote.
The action reflects the council's growing impatience with Pyonyang for defying a half-dozen similar resolutions over a decade regarding its nuclear and missile programs.
Last month, North Korea tested two ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States.
Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, President Trump’s national security adviser, said in an interview Saturday on MSNBC that a military option was still under consideration for dealing with the North Korean threat, but that the United States and its allies wanted first to exhaust all other options to resolve the standoff with Pyongyang peacefully.
“What we have to do is everything we can to pressure this regime, to pressure Kim Jong-un and those around him such that they conclude, it is in their interest to denuclearize,” he said.
The comments came as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in the Philippines for a regional summit that is expected to focus heavily on concerns with North Korea. Tillerson has no plans to sit down with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho at the event.
Tillerson’s reluctance to sit down with his North Korean counterpart is despite his growing push for Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table with the U.S. Tillerson said this week that such talks would have to be predicated on the North giving up its nuclear weapons aspirations and that the conditions for such talks haven’t yet been met by North Korea’s government.
Contributing: Associated Press
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