N. Korea issues threat ahead of UN sanctions vote
North Korea's Foreign Ministry issued a statement early on Monday saying that it was "ready and willing" to respond with its own measures should a new round of sanctions be approved later in the day.
Pyongyang is "ready and willing to use any form of ultimate means," the ministry said in a statement, adding that the country could cause the US "the greatest pain and suffering it had ever gone through in its entire history."
The UN Security Council is due to vote on Monday afternoon, New York time, on a draft proposal of sanctions against the reclusive state.
Should they be approved, the measures would be the toughest sanctions ever passed against Pyongyang.
The Washington-drafted sanctions reportedly include a proposal to freeze leader Kim Jong Un's assets and to place a ban on all oil and natural gas exports to the country.
"The U.S. is trying to use the DPRK's legitimate self-defensive measures as an excuse to strangle and completely suffocate it," the North's statement said, using the acronym for the country's formal name.
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Security Council due to vote
It was not clear whether veto-holding Russia and China would support the sanctions.
Prior UN sanctions resolutions have taken weeks or months of negations between the US and China, but the Trump administration demanded a quick turnaround for the vote.
The sanctions are in response to North Korea's ongoing nuclear weapon and missile programs and its latest nuclear test.
On September 3, Pyongyang tested what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb in the most powerful nuclear test conducted by the country so far.
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A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the US, Britain, France, Russia or China to pass. Washington circulated its draft resolution to the 15-member council last Wednesday.
The UN imposed its most severe round of sanctions against North Korea just weeks ago, which included a complete ban on coal and iron exports as well as blocking international sales of North Korean seafood and lead ore.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leaders have expressed doubt over whether sanctions are an effective way to get the North to stop its missile tests. Beijing has repeatedly hesitated in the past to fully support US sanction plans.
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In an interview published Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel also stressed the importance of diplomacy in defusing tensions with Pyongyang. She also offered to facilitate the talks if needed.
"If our participation in talks is wanted, I will say yes immediately," she told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper.
rs/jm (AP, dpa, Reuters)