Washington (September 13, 2017): United States President Donald Trump and congressional lawmakers signaled on Tuesday that more steps need to be taken to rein in North Korea’s rapidly developing nuclear program despite the United Nations Security Council’s unanimous vote to pass additional sanctions on the country.
Trump noted the 15-0 UN vote during a meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, but said they are “just another very small step, not a big deal” and suggested that he doesn’t know “if it has any impact.”
Trump added that the sanctions pale in comparison to “what ultimately will have to happen” to North Korea. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tuesday that the UN resolution represented “the strongest set of sanctions” so far, adding that “that’s significant.” Trump, she suggested, was conveying that tougher measures can still be taken because the international community is not “at the ceiling” of what can be done.
The North Korean Foreign Ministry condemned the sanctions “in the strongest terms,” calling them a “heinous provocation aimed at depriving the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the country’s official name) of its legitimate right for self-defense.”
“The ‘resolution’ was fabricated by the US employing all sorts of despicable and vicious means and methods,” the statement said.
That statement followed a similar message from Monday, in which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported Pyongyang would respond to any sanctions by inflicting upon the United States “the greatest pain and suffering it had ever gone through in its entire history,” KCNA reported.
Trump’s remarks came just hours after House lawmakers from both parties expressed frustration that the US isn’t exerting greater pressure on China to stop North Korea’s march toward developing nuclear weapons capable of striking the continental United States.
“We don’t threaten China, even a little bit, with country sanctions because that would be difficult, politically,” to do, said Rep. Brad Sherman, a California Democrat. China, North Korea’s closest diplomatically and largest trading partner, is seen as key to solving the standoff with Pyongyang.
The committee chairman, Republican Rep. Ed Royce of California, said he agreed with Sherman and urged more sanctions against Chinese banks that do business with North Korea. “It’s been a long, long time of waiting for China to comply with the sanctions we pass and, frankly, the sanctions the United Nations passes.”