SEOUL (NYTIMES) - Stung by onerous new sanctions from the United Nations Security Council, North Korea on Monday (Aug 7) threatened retaliation "thousands of times" and hinted at a possible attack on the United States.
In its first major response to the sanctions drafted by the United States and adopted on Saturday, North Korea said it would never relinquish its missile and nuclear arsenals and called the penalties a panicky US-led response to its growing military might.
The North Korean response, in statements from its official news agency, foreign minister and UN mission, suggested that the country's leader, Kim Jong Un, was doubling down on his goal of developing a nuclear-armed missile that could hit the continental United States.
The warnings began with a statement from North Korea's official news agency, threatening to make the United States "pay the price for its crime thousands of times", referring to the new sanctions.
"There is no bigger mistake than the United States believing that its land is safe across the ocean," the news agency said.
North Korea's foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, echoed the hostility later in a statement released at an annual meeting of foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Manila that also was attended by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Ri described North Korea's missiles and nuclear weapons as defensive measures against what he called the threat of annihilation by the United States.
The country's UN mission also issued a lengthy statement denouncing the sanctions, which were meant to dissuade North Korea from pressing ahead with its missile and nuclear weapons programs.
The statement called the sanctions, which include prohibitions on North Korean exports of coal, iron and seafood, "a flagrant infringement upon its sovereignty." The response came two days after the Security Council approved the measures in a 15-0 vote that basically left Kim bereft of any powerful supporter on the issue, including China, which helped the United States draft the new penalties.
If enforced, the measures could lop an estimated $1 billion annually off North Korea's meager export revenue of US$3 billion.
The resolution was a direct response to North Korea's successful tests last month of two intercontinental ballistic missiles that for the first time demonstrated an ability to reach the U.S. mainland.
The sanctions are the toughest of the seven Security Council resolutions adopted since 2006 aimed at curbing North Korea's nuclear militarisation.