North Korea vowed to retaliate “thousands of times over” and that “under no circumstances” will it negotiate over its nuclear weapons after the United Nations slapped strong new sanctions against the rogue regime.
Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho added that North Korea won’t use nuclear weapons against any country — “except the U.S.,” or another country that allies with the United States in action against the country.
“We will under no circumstances put the nukes and ballistic rockets on the negotiating table,” Ri said, warning that North Korea is ready to “teach the U.S. a severe lesson.”
After the sanctions were implemented, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced there could be a way for North Korea to work toward convincing the United Nations to lift them. The isolationist nation would have to stop testing missiles for an “extended period,” said Tillerson, though he didn’t lay out specifics.
“We’ll know it when we see it,” Tillerson said.
“This is not a ‘give me 30 days and we are ready to talk.’ It’s not quite that simple. So it is all about how we see their attitude towards approaching a dialogue with us.”
Over the weekend, the United Nations implemented sanctions against North Korea that banned the exports of coal, iron, lead and seafood products — as well as a ban on countries importing those North Korean products — in penalties expected to hit the nation to the tune of $1 billion.
That figure — small as it may seem on a global scale — is in fact about one-third of its total annual exports.
The sanctions were seen as a triumph for the Trump administration, including U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, because the negotiations involved convincing China, North Korea’s most vital trade partner, to go along.
They were in response to North Korea’s steadily increasing pace of nuclear weapons tests, including an intercontinental ballistic missile launch last month that showed it could reach the mainland of the United States for the first time.
President Trump has called for a fast implementation of the sanctions and had an hourlong phone call with Tillerson and Chief of Staff John Kelly about North Korea, among other topics.
Tillerson also worked yesterday to try to convince the countries that signed off on the sanctions to actually follow through on carrying them out.
China, in particular, has a history of agreeing to sanctions for a while, only to eventually return to business as usual with North Korea.
Herald wire services contributed to this report.
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