Seoul – North Korea warned on Monday it would inflict ‘’the greatest pain and suffering’’ on the United States if Washington persists in pushing for harsher UN sanctions following Pyongyang’s sixth nuclear test.
The UN Security Council is set to vote on Monday afternoon on a watered-down US-drafted resolution to impose new sanctions on North Korea over its latest nuclear test, diplomats said, but it was unclear whether China and Russia would support it.
The draft resolution appears to have been weakened in a bid to appease North Korea’s ally China and Russia following negotiations during the past few days.
In order to pass, a resolution needs nine of the 15 Security Council members to vote in favor and no vetoes by any of the five permanent members – the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China.
The draft, seen by Reuters on Sunday, no longer proposes blacklisting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The initial draft proposed he be subjected to a travel ban and asset freeze along with four other North Korea officials. The final text only lists one of those officials.
The draft text still proposes a ban on textile exports, which were North Korea’s second-biggest export after coal and other minerals in 2016, totaling $752 million, according to data from the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency. Nearly 80 percent of the textile exports went to China.
The draft drops a proposed oil embargo and instead intends to impose a ban on condensates and natural gas liquids, a cap of two million barrels a year on refined petroleum products, and a cap crude oil exports to North Korea at current levels.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for a boost to the country’s defenses in the face of North Korean threats, warning that Tokyo needs to be able to protect itself.
‘’We have to take all appropriate measures against (incidents such as) North Korea’s missile launch over Japan,’’ added the premier, who said he had asked his defense minister to draw up a blueprint for Japan’s medium-term defense strategy.
The September 3 detonation was the North Korea’s largest and prompted global outrage, with the UN Security Council set to discuss a new draft resolution presented by Washington that would be the toughest-ever imposed against the isolated regime.
The US is calling for an oil embargo on Pyongyang, an assets freeze on leader Kim Jong Un, but also an end to textile exports and to payments made to North Korean guest workers.
Washington wants the Security Council to vote on Monday to impose the sanctions, despite resistance from Beijing and Moscow to the new measures.
In a statement published by the official KCNA news agency, North Korea’s foreign ministry warned Washington that if it did ‘’rig up the illegal and unlawful ‘resolution’ on harsher sanctions, the DPRK shall make absolutely sure that the US pays due price.’’