North Korea warns that the more sanctions are imposed by the US and its allies against the peninsular country, the faster it will move to complete its nuclear weapons program, as tensions between Washington and Pyongyang escalate at an unprecedented rate.
The latest embargos imposed by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) represent “the most vicious, unethical and inhumane act of hostility to physically exterminate the people of the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] DPRK, let alone its system and government,” said North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Monday, citing an unnamed foreign ministry spokesman.
Early last week, US-drafted stringent sanctions, including bans on textile imports and capping crude and petrol supply, were passed at the UNSC without opposition, to further pressure the North to abandon its nuclear and missile programs.
However, it seems that sanctions have of little effect, if any, on Pyongyang’s will to complete it nuclear plans. North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has already said that his country seeks to reach “equilibrium” of military force with the US.
On Sunday, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley acknowledged that the UNSC has run out of options on containing Pyongyang’s nuclear program, warning that the White House may have to turn the matter over to the Pentagon.
“We have pretty much exhausted all the things that we can do at the Security Council at this point,” Haley said, adding that she was completely happy to hand the North’s issue over to Defense Secretary James Mattis.
There has been an international uproar over Pyongyang’s sixth and the biggest nuclear test to date, which was conducted on September 3. The bomb was reportedly about three times more powerful than America’s atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945. The North also staged an intermediate-range missile test over Japan last Friday, drawing Tokyo’s strong condemnation.
China, Russia and South Korea are among the countries that have voiced strong criticism of the North’s sixth nuclear test. Washington has also censured Pyongyang, and President Donald Trump has described North Korea as a “rogue nation,” which has become a “great threat and embarrassment” to China, North Korea’s main ally.
Trump has repeatedly threatened that the military option is on the table regarding North Korea, warning Pyongyang that it would be destroyed if it refused to do as it was told. However, experts on North Korea have already warned that aggressive rhetoric could backfire on Trump, convincing Pyongyang that it is in imminent danger and triggering what he sees as a preemptive attack.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has already warned of a global catastrophe if parties to tensions on the Korean Peninsula did not end their military rhetoric, saying the North would not abandon its nuclear program unless it felt secure.
Meanwhile, the head of Russia’s upper house Committee for International Relations said that Kremlin would not allow the US or any other country to provoke Pyongyang into a military conflict, as that could mean the employment of weapons of mass destruction near the country’s borders.
In another development on Monday, the US’s 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team and the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) held urban warfare and frontline rescue drills near the foot of Mount Fuji. The so-called Orient Shield 17 drills, which are part of an annual two-week exercise, were held with around 1,200 soldiers taking part. The drills kicked off on September 8 and are scheduled to end on the 25th.
Also on Monday, a pair of US B-1B Lancer bombers and four US F-35B stealth jet fighters, plus a number of South Korea’s F-15K fighter jets flew over South Korea as part of a joint military drill conducted by Washington and Seoul, aimed at countering North Korea’s latest nuclear and missile tests.
Russia and China warn that no military solution is available for resolving the escalating crisis, saying the current standoff will only be resolved through dialogue.
North Korea is under mounting international pressure over its missile and military nuclear programs and has been subjected to an array of sanctions by the UN. However, Pyongyang says it needs to continue and develop the programs as a deterrent against hostility by the US and its regional allies, including South Korea and Japan.