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North Korea has "nothing to fear" from more sanctions

North Korea has "nothing to fear" from more sanctions
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By Catherine Hardy with REUTERS
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Envoy warns Pyongyang will "accelerate" its nuclear plan and missile programmes, prompted by the "hostile activities" of the US and South Korea.

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North Korea has nothing to fear from any US move to broaden sanctions aimed at cutting it off from the global financial system.

Envoys say Pyongyang will pursue an “acceleration” of its nuclear and missile programmes.

Exclusive: North Korea has no fear of U.S. sanctions move, will pursue nuclear arms – envoy https://t.co/zYpGX4V0cj

— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) 21 mars 2017

What does this mean, in concrete terms?

Developing a “pre-emptive first strike capability” and an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM), according to Choe Myong Nam, deputy ambassador at the DPRK UN mission in Geneva

The context

Quoting a senior US official in Washington on Monday, Reuters said the Trump administration is considering sweeping sanctions as part of a broad review of measures to counter North Korea’s nuclear and missile threat.

“I think this is stemming from the visit by the US Secretary of State to Japan, South Korea and China..we, of course, are not afraid of any act like that,” Choe said.

“Even prohibition of the international transactions system, the global financial system, this kind of thing is part of their system that will not frighten us or make any difference.”

EXCLUSIVE: Trump administration is considering sweeping sanctions against North Korea – U.S. official. https://t.co/Q8026DHzY7pic.twitter.com/rB4RGTHTmw

— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) 21 mars 2017

“Heinous and inhumane”

Choi called existing sanctions “heinous and inhumane”.

North Korea has been under sanctions for “half a century” but the communist state survives by placing an emphasis on “self-sufficiency”.

Pyongyang wants a forum set up to examine the “legality and legitimacy of the sanctions regime”.

He denounced joint annual military exercises currently being carried out by the US and South Korea on the divided peninsula.

Choi also criticised remarks by the US secretary of state during his talks with regional allies last week.

“All he was talking about is for the US to take military actions in DPRK,” Choe said.

UPDATE: North Korea has nothing to fear from any U.S. move to broaden sanctions against it – Pyongyang envoy

— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) 21 mars 2017

Military drills

North Korea rejects claims by Washington and Seoul that the military drills are defensive. They involve strategic nuclear bombers and a nuclear submarine that recently entered South Korean ports, Choe said.

“In the light of such huge military forces involved in the joint military exercises, we have no other choice but to continue with our full acceleration of the nuclear programmes and missile programmes. It is because of these hostile activities on the part of the US and South Korea.”

“We strengthen our national defense capability as well as pre-emptive strike capabilities with nuclear forces as a centrepiece.”

The US and South Korea are staging military exercises as part of a plan to “decapitate” the North Korean leadership https://t.co/lxj4JKbLfg

— New York Post (@nypost) 14 mars 2017

Missile tests

Choe declined to give technical details of North Korea’s latest rocket engine test on Sunday, calling it a “great historical event that would lead to fruitful outcomes.”

“I can tell you for sure that the inter-continental ballistic rockets of the DPRK will be launched at any time and at any place, as decided by our Supreme Leadership.”

“The US has been talking about launching pre-emptive strikes at North Korea, and we have been prepared to deter, to counter-attack such attacks on the part of the US.”

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“We would utilise every possible means in our hands and the inter-continental ballistic rocket is one of them.”

Rex Tillerson and Xi Jinping exchange pleasantries, as North Korea tests new missile engine https://t.co/8BMvwAkPAwpic.twitter.com/mCoNMCgLTb

— New York Times World (@nytimesworld) 20 mars 2017

What the experts say

Analysts think it likely that North Korea has likely mastered the technology to power the different stages of an ICBM and may show it off soon.

However, it is likely to still be a long way from being able to hit the mainland US.

North Korea ‘accelerates’ nuclear plan and is ‘not afraid’ of more US sanctions https://t.co/4rp7hZ9PqM

— The Guardian (@guardian) 21 mars 2017

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