North calls U.S. sanctions useless

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North calls U.S. sanctions useless

North Korea slammed Washington’s recent adoption of unilateral sanctions Thursday, saying the measures only provide further justification for its development of nuclear weapons and increase the regime’s “stamina.”

Addressing the United States as a “hooligan,” an unidentified spokesman for North Korea’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said via the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) that the “sanctions campaign” may work on other countries, but never with Pyongyang.

“The sanctions by the U.S. has only worked to redouble the indomitable spirit of our army and people, united as one following their leader… and increase the DPRK’s self-defensive capability,” the report read in English, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

North Korea’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile last week, the second in less than a month, was “meant to send a stern warning to the U.S. being reckless and frantic having suffered only crushing defeats in the all-out showdown” with the North, the article continued.

Pyongyang warned Washington to stop “wasting its energy on the hopeless sanctions racket” and start thinking of ways to protect its own country.

The response was North Korea’s first following U.S. President Donald Trump’s signing into law a sweeping package of sanctions on North Korea, Iran and Russia on Wednesday.

The legislation, referred to as the “Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act,” encompasses the “Korean Interdiction and Modernization of Sanctions Act” on Pyongyang, which tackles online commercial activities linked to the North Korean government, including online gambling, and the country’s overseas forced labor.

The act also includes blocking the transfers of bulk cash, precious metals and gemstones to or from North Korea, as well as crude oil, petroleum, petroleum byproducts and other natural gas resources, with some exceptions for humanitarian uses.

In a separate article released by KCNA the same day, another unidentified spokesman for the Consultative Council for National Reconciliation accused the South Korean government of “dancing to the tune of psychopath-like Trump,” saying doing so will only “invite the disaster of a nuclear war.”

It continued that “even their master, the U.S., is finding itself in a dilemma as its sanctions and military pressure do not work on the DPRK,” and the “puppet authorities” of South Korea are foolishly raising the idea of their own unilateral sanctions.

The improvement of inter-Korean relations hinges on Seoul’s “sincerity in practice with the right attitude,” the spokesman added.

Pyongyang has not given any direct response to Seoul on its offer to hold inter-Korean military talks to cease all hostility near the border. The North also has not responded to Seoul’s proposition to discuss a reunion for war-torn families.

Seoul said it was still open to such talks. The last time Seoul held government talks with Pyongyang was in December 2015, under the former Park Geun-hye administration. The last family reunion was held in October that year.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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