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July 23 2018, 12:00 | Irvin Gilbert
The U.N. Security Council on Friday unanimously adopted a new sanctions resolution that targets almost 90 percent of refined petroleum product exports to North Korea and demands the repatriation of North Koreans working overseas.
"If you think that those toothless "sanctions" could stop the victorious march of our people who have. achieved the historic goal of building the national nuclear weapons, there would not be a bigger mistake than that", the foreign ministry said.
The U.S. -drafted resolution also caps crude oil supplies to North Korea at 4 million barrels a year and commits the Council to further reductions if it were to conduct another nuclear test or launch another intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
The current limit was set in a Security Council resolution adopted in September following the North's sixth and most powerful nuclear test. "It sends the unambiguous message to Pyongyang that further defiance will invite further punishment and isolation". The U.N.'s top envoy to North Korea, Jeffrey Feltman, said this month that he was "deeply worried" about the prospects of a diplomatic solution to the crisis after meeting officials in Pyongyang.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman defended North Korea's right to possess nuclear weapons as necessary "to defend our sovereignty and rights to existence and development in the face of ever increased hostile moves and nuclear threats and blackmail of the U.S".
The third raft of sanctions imposed on the North this year, sparked by last month's ICBM test, also received the backing of China - the North's sole major ally and economic lifeline.
Two of those changes were extending the deadline for North Korean workers to return home from 12 months to 24 months, which Russian Federation said was the minimum needed, and reducing the number of North Koreans being put on the United Nations sanctions blacklist from 19 to 15.
"China has made enormous efforts to push for settlement through dialogue and negotiations and has paid a price higher than all the other parties for the objective of implementing the council's resolutions", Deputy Ambassador Wu Haitao said.
The South Korean Defense Ministry is creating a new bureau dedicated to monitoring and countering the threat from North Korea, according to a government news release.
The resolution adopted by all 15 council members didn't go as far as the toughest-ever sanctions that have been sought by the Trump administration, such as prohibiting all oil imports and freezing global assets of North Korea's government and its leader, Kim Jong Un.