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UN imposes 'unprecedented' sanctions on North Korea

The UN Security Council has voted in favor of a resolution targeting Pyongyang's nuclear program. The sanctions include a ban on trading small arms, light weapons and luxury goods with North Korea.

The UN Security Council on Wednesday unanimously supported sweeping measures to curb North Korea's nuclear program, toted by officials as the most significant sanctions regime against the communist nation in two decades.

The move comes after Pyongyang's launch of a long-range rocket in February, which the international community described as an effort by the country to test its capability to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles.

North Korea also tested a nuclear weapon in January, a move that drew international outrage at the country's progress with its atomic weapons program.

Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, described the sanctions as "unprecedented."

"Virtually all of the DPRK's resources are channeled into its reckless and relentless pursuit of weapons of mass destruction," said Power, referring to North Korea by the acronym of its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

'Firm response'

The UN's measures include a ban on all sales or transfers of small arms and light weapons to Pyongyang and mandatory inspections on cargo entering and exiting the communist nation.

The UN resolution also provides countries' the ability to expel North Korean diplomats who engage in "illicit activities" and bans the sale of luxury items, including watches and snowmobiles worth more than $2,000 (1,847 euros) in a bid to target the country's elites.

"These sanctions are not meant to target ordinary citizens," said Motohide Yoshikawa, Japan's permanent representative to the UN, a sentiment echoed by several countries on the Security Council.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the Council's resolution, saying he hoped it would lead to "dialogue."

"This firm response by the Security Council should put an end to the cycle of provocation and lead to the resumption of dialogue in accordance with the unified view of the international community," Ban said in a statement.

US President Barack Obama praised the resolution, saying it was a "firm, united and appropriate response by the international community."

"Today, the international community, speaking with one voice, has sent Pyongyang a simple message: North Korea must abandon these dangerous programs and choose a better path for its people," said Obama.

Watch video 01:53

N. Korea sanctions even China agrees with

ls/sms (AP, dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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