President Donald Trump said Tuesday that new U.N. sanctions “are nothing compared to what ultimately will have to happen” to stop North Korea’s nuclear march, and U.S. officials showed Congress satellite images of illicit trade to highlight the challenge of getting China and Russia to cut off commerce with the nation.
The U.N. Security Council’s restrictions are meant to further squeeze North Korea’s economy after Kim Jong Un’s authoritarian government conducted what it says was a hydrogen bomb test Sept. 3. The world body on Monday banned North Korean textile exports, a key source of hard currency, and capped its imports of crude oil.
The measures fell short of Washington’s goals, which were a ban on oil imports and freezing the international assets of Kim and his government.
“We think it’s just another very small step — not a big deal,” Trump said as he met with Malaysia’s prime minister at the White House. “But those sanctions are nothing compared to what ultimately will have to happen.” He did not elaborate.
Despite its limited economic impact, the new sanctions add to pressure on Pyongyang without alienating Moscow and Beijing. The U.S. needs the support of both of its geopolitical rivals for its current strategy of using economic pressure and diplomacy — and not military options — for getting North Korea to halt its testing of nuclear bombs and the missiles for delivering them.
Trump said it was “nice” to get a 15-0 vote at the U.N.
But after the vote, China and Russia expressed concerns over U.S. envoy Nikki Haley’s remark Monday that the U.S. would act alone if Kim’s regime doesn’t stop testing missiles and bombs.
The U.N. representatives of both countries on Monday reiterated what they called “the four nos”: no regime change, no regime collapse, no accelerated reunification or no military deployment north of the 38th parallel dividing the Korean Peninsula.
“The Chinese side will never allow conflict or war on the peninsula,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement Tuesday.