United States softens N Korea resolution ahead of UN vote

North Korea says US to 'pay dearly' for Haley's 'hysteric fit'

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who called the nuclear risk in North Korea the most unsafe crisis in the world today, told reporters Tuesday that "the unity of the Security Council is absolutely crucial". "The North Korean regime has not yet passed the point of no return".

"If it agrees to stop its nuclear program, it can reclaim its future".

US President Donald Trump has said all options, including military action, are on the table to deal with the threat.

The ministry stressed that the proposed sanctions were aimed at undermining North Korea's sovereignty to an extreme level, and added that Pyongyang was closely monitoring USA moves.

Haley last week called the proposal "insulting" and said the U.S. has maintained that North Korea needs to halt their activities before talks can take place.

He did not elaborate on what "ultimate means" referred to.

Despite the weakened penalties, US Ambassador Nikki R. Haley cast the resolution as a victory in her Security Council remarks.

Textiles are one of North Korea's major exports, with a total export value estimated at $750 million in 2016, and the tens of thousands of North Koreans working overseas send a significant portion of their earnings home to the regime. Almost 80 per cent went to China.

"It's not a complete quarantine, but it is getting close", said Scott Snyder of the Council on Foreign Relations.

"This ban will eventually starve the regime of an additional $500 million or more in annual revenues", she said.

Top Trump administration officials including Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford briefed Congress on Wednesday about the crisis and the administration's approach.

Recent months have seen an alarming escalation in tensions between the isolated Korean state and the USA, with Pyongyang launching increasingly ambitious missile tests and Mr Trump promising "fire and fury" in response.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe quickly welcomed the resolution and said after the vote it was important to change North Korea's policy by stepping up pressure.

The latest proposed resolution seen by AFP would slap an embargo on natural gas exports to North Korea, place a ceiling on deliveries of refined oil products and cap crude oil shipments at their current level.

The original US draft would also have frozen the assets of North Korea's state-owned airline Air Koryo, the Korean People's Army and five other powerful military and party entities.

"This resolution reduces about 30% of oil provided to North Korea by cutting off over 55% of refined petroleum products going to North Korea", the statement said.

North Korea says it needs ballistic and nuclear weapons to defend itself and regularly threatens the United States, including recently by saying it would conduct ballistic missile tests near Guam, the location of a major USA military base.

North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test just over a week ago and Washington and its allies want harsh new restrictions placed on Pyongyang.

On September 3, the North Korean Army carried out its sixth and most powerful nuclear test with a hydrogen bomb, which triggered a strong condemnation of the global community and raised tensions in the region.

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