U.N. Security Council Hits North Korea With More Sanctions After Nuclear Test

The U.N. Security Council agreed to tighten sanctions against North Korea on Thursday as punishment for its recent nuclear test. The Council's unanimous agreement came after three weeks of negotiation between the U.S. and China, which has opposed such measures in the past. North Korea was furious at the U.N. action, issuing a threat to attack the U.S. with nuclear weapons as the sanctions came up for a vote.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

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CORNISH: The United Nations Security Council is sending a tough message to North Korea today. In a unanimous vote, the Council imposed new sanctions on North Korea as punishment for its recent underground nuclear test.

CORNISH: The sanctions are intended to make it harder for the North to develop more nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice says these sanctions will bite. The resolution requires U.N. member states to inspect cargo on North Korean ships and airplanes. It tightens financial restrictions and bans some luxury goods.

AMBASSADOR SUSAN RICE: North Korea's ruling elite, who have been living large while impoverishing their people, will pay a direct price for this nuclear test.

KELEMEN: China's U.N. ambassador, Li Baodong, says he wants to see the new resolution fully implemented, but is also hoping everyone will return to negotiations.

AMBASSADOR LI BAODONG: So the resolution itself is important step but one step cannot make journey.

KELEMEN: Russia's ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, says it's unrealistic to think that talks could resume right away, but he says it should be a priority.

AMBASSADOR VITALY CHURKIN: Let's act and talk with restraint, let's keep our minds cool, and keep focused on the need for returning to six-party talks and a diplomatic solution to this problem.

KELEMEN: North Korea though, has been particularly bellicose, threatening the United States with a preemptive nuclear strike, prompting this remark from Ambassador Rice.

RICE: North Korea will achieve nothing by continued threats and provocations.

KELEMEN: At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, chairman Robert Menendez of New Jersey called the North Korean threat absurd, saying it looks like Pyongyang is trying to commit suicide.

The Obama administration's North Korea envoy, Glyn Davies, told the panel the U.S. is taking steps to defend itself and its allies in the region.

Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington.

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