North Korea slammed fresh U.N. sanctions imposed over its missile tests as an “act of war” on Sunday, its first response to the latest diplomatic move to punish Pyongyang’s ever-accelerating weapons drive.
Tension has been high on the flashpoint peninsula as the isolated but nuclear-armed regime has staged a series of atomic and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests — most recently on November 29.
The latest launch of the Hwasong-15 ICBM, seen capable of hitting all major U.S. cities, further heightened global alarm over the rapid advance in the country’s weapons technology.
“We fully reject the latest U.N. sanctions… as a violent breach of our republic’s sovereignty and an act of war that destroys the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and a wider region,” Pyongyang’s foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the state-run KCNA news agency.
Pyongyang’s bellicose reply came a day after the U.N. Security Council unanimously passed new, U.S.-drafted sanctions that will restrict oil supplies vital for the impoverished state.
The third raft of sanctions imposed on the North this year, sparked by last month’s ICBM test, also received the backing of China — the North’s sole major ally and economic lifeline.
The sanctions also order the repatriation of North Korean workers sent abroad to earn much needed revenue for Kim Jong-Un‘s regime.
The country’s weapons programmes have made significant progress since Mr. Kim took power in 2011.