North Korea warns of tough response after US sanctions Kim Jong Un

  • Reuters, Washington/Seoul
  • Updated: Jul 08, 2016 18:05 IST
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un looks at a rocket warhead tip after a simulated test of atmospheric re-entry of a ballistic missile, at an unidentified location. (REUTERS File Photo)

North Korea warned on Thursday it is planning its toughest response to what it deemed a “declaration of war” by the United States after Washington blacklisted the nuclear-armed country’s leader Kim Jong Un for human rights abuses.

Pyongyang described the sanctioning of Kim as a “hideous crime,” according to North Korea’s official KCNA news agency.

“... the US dared challenge the dignity of (North Korea) supreme leadership, an act reminiscent of a new-born puppy knowing no fear of a tiger,” the statement said.

“This is the worst hostility and an open declaration of war against (North Korea) as it has gone far beyond the confrontation over the human rights issue.”

In response, the US government urged Pyongyang to refrain from statements and actions that raise tensions in the region.

The United States imposed its first sanctions targeting any North Koreans for rights abuses on Wednesday, blacklisting Kim along with 10 other people and five government ministries and departments. The action affects assets within US jurisdiction.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a former South Korean foreign minister, hopes China will urge its ally North Korea to cooperate internationally on human rights, his spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, said on Thursday in New York.

Dujarric said that Ban, who is currently visiting China, “believes that discussion of human rights concerns allows for a more comprehensive assessment and action when addressing security and stability concerns on the Korean Peninsula.”

China’s foreign ministry, when asked about the US decision, said it opposed the use of unilateral sanctions. China argues that the human rights situation in North Korea is not a threat to international peace and security, and has sought to prevent the issue being discussed at the UN Security Council.

US secretary of state John Kerry said he had spoken to Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and hoped that Beijing would continue to cooperate with UN sanctions aimed at rolling back North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

North Korea has been under UN sanctions since 2006. In March, the Security Council imposed harsh new sanctions on the country in response to North Korea’s fourth nuclear test in January and the launch of a long-range rocket in February.

Some analysts and diplomats have warned that the US action could limit cooperation with China on further action.

US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said last month that the United States would seek to identify people and entities linked to a series of recent ballistic missile tests by Pyongyang, in violation of a UN ban, who could be sanctioned by the UN Security Council. The cooperation of China and Russia would be needed for any further designations.

Senior US administration officials said the new US sanctions showed the administration’s greater focus on human rights in North Korea, an issue long secondary to Washington’s efforts to halt Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

“Under Kim Jong Un, North Korea continues to inflict intolerable cruelty and hardship on millions of its own people, including extrajudicial killings, forced labor, and torture,” acting undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam J Szubin said in a statement.

Inside North Korea, adulation for Kim is mandatory and he is considered infallible. A 2014 report by the United Nations, which referred to Kim, 32, by name in connection with human rights, triggered a strong reaction from Pyongyang, including a string of military provocations.

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