Washington, Aug 8 (IANS) US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has called the new set of UN sanctions on North Korea as a “gut-punch” to Pyongyang, squeezing the flow of the defiant nation’s economic lifeblood to punish it for its nuclear and missile tests.
“It was a gut-punch to North Korea, to let them know the international community is tired of it and we’re going to start fighting back,” the top Indian-American diplomat told Fox News on Monday, in reference to the sweeping UN sanctions.
“Every dollar of revenue that the North Korean government gets, they’re not feeding their people with it. They’re using it towards a nuclear weapons system. Going after these sanctions is going after their ability to build these missiles,” she said.
The UN Security Council last week voted unanimously to introduce a set of punishing sanctions that could cost the Communist dictatorship some $1 billion of its $3 billion annual export revenue.
The resolution, deemed the harshest since its first nuclear experiment in 2006, was payback for Pyongyang’s testing of two intercontinental ballistic missiles last month, which for the first time showed a capacity to hit the US mainland.
North Korea argues that its nuclear and missile programmes are only aimed at deterring an eventual invasion from the US, a country with which the regime has been technically at war for more than 60 years.
Haley was one of the frontrunners in applying pressure to permanent UN Security Council members China and Russia to join them, rather than veto the resolution. She acknowledged that it was no easy feat, but remained confident that China — North Korea’s central trading partner — would fulfil its obligations and ensure the sanctions decree is upheld.
North Korea responded to the move with threats and backlash, suggesting that the country’s leader Kim Jong-Un was doubling down on his objective of developing a nuclear-armed missile that could reach the US.
Haley, however, maintained that “we are not going to run scared from them”.