North Korea calls new United Nations sanctions an "act of war"

Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov. 11 2016

South Korea, for its part, offered encouragement for the path of diplomacy and urged the North to join the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

With unprecedented Chinese backing, the Security Council tightened the economic chokehold on North Korea by unanimously voting on Friday to impose the strictest sanctions on North Korea aiming to cut off most fuel supplies and ban major exports following Pyongyang's latest missile test.

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.

North Korea said those who voted for the sanctions would face its wrath.

USA diplomats have made clear they are seeking a diplomatic solution but President Donald Trump has derided talks as useless and said Pyongyang must commit to giving up its nuclear weapons before any talks can begin.

"The United States is afraid of our achievements in developing our nuclear program", he told a state-run media outlet.

"In searching for the recognition of its status as a de facto nuclear-possessing state, (the North) would explore the possibility of negotiations with the USA".

The UN on Saturday voted to toughen the sanctions on the isolated dictatorship, imposing a ban of almost 90% of refined petroleum exports to the country.

He added that North Korea will continue to develop its nuclear program "for self-defense purposes", in order to eradicate "the threats, blackmail and other hostile actions by the Americans".

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"The US should not forget that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has rapidly emerged as a strategic state capable of posing a substantial nuclear threat to the US mainland".

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the door remains open for talks.

The sanctions include drastically lowering limits on North Korea's oil imports.

"It sends the unambiguous message to Pyongyang that further defiance will invite further punishment and isolation", U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said of the resolution after a Friday vote.

President Donald Trump had already wanted more significant restrictions on the sale of oil to North Korea in September, after the regime conducted an underground nuclear test on Sept. 2, 2017, that was claimed to be of a hydrogen bomb.

USA diplomats have made clear they are seeking a diplomatic solution but proposed the new, tougher sanctions resolution to ratchet up pressure on North Korea's leader.

China, which accounts for about 90 percent of the North's trade and is a main supplier of oil to the country, also insisted on diplomacy.

"The difference between the new resolution and the original US proposal reflects the will of China and Russian Federation to prevent war and chaos on the Korean Peninsula".

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