By HYUNG-JIN KIM
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea vowed Monday to bolster its nuclear arsenal and launch “thousands-fold” revenge against the United States in response to tough U.N. sanctions imposed after its recent intercontinental ballistic missile launches.
The warning came two days after the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved new sanctions to punish North Korea, including a ban on coal and other exports worth over $1 billion. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, called the U.S.-drafted resolution “the single largest economic sanctions package ever leveled against” North Korea.
In a statement carried by state media, the North Korean government said the sanctions were a “violent infringement of its sovereignty” that was caused by a “heinous U.S. plot to isolate and stifle” North Korea.
It said the U.N. sanctions will never force the country to negotiate over its nuclear program or to give up its push to strengthen its nuclear capability as long as U.S. hostility and nuclear threats persist. The North said it will take an “action of justice,” but didn’t elaborate.
“It’s a wild idea to think the DPRK will be shaken and change its position due to this kind of new sanctions formulated by hostile forces,” said the statement, carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency. DPRK stands for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The North’s statement “rhetorically expresses its anger” against the U.N. sanctions, but the country is not likely to launch a direct provocation against the United States, said Lim Eul Chul, a North Korea expert at South Korea’s Kyungnam University. He said the North could still carry out new missile tests or a sixth atomic bomb test in the coming months under its broader weapons development timetable.
North Korea test-launched two ICBMs last month as part of its efforts to possess a long-range missile capable of striking anywhere in the mainland U.S. Both missiles were fired at highly lofted angles and analysts say the weapons could reach parts of the United States including Alaska, Los Angeles and Chicago if fired at a normal, flattened trajectory.
The centerpiece of the U.N. sanctions is a ban on North Korean exports of coal, iron, lead and seafood products — and a ban on all countries importing those products, estimated to be worth over $1 billion a year in hard currency. The resolution also bans countries from giving any…