US President Donald Trump said the “world wants peace not death” following the latest bout of UN Security Council sanctions placed on North Korea.
His comments came as the US secretary of defence told American soldiers to be “ready to go” if war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula.
The sanctions – which order North Koreans working abroad to return home within two years and ban nearly 90 percent of refined petroleum exports to the country – were unanimously approved in a resolution by the 15-member body on Friday.
Following the vote, Trump said on Twitter: “The United Nations Security Council just voted 15-0 in favor of additional Sanctions on North Korea. The World wants Peace, not Death!”
The United Nations Security Council just voted 15-0 in favor of additional Sanctions on North Korea. The World wants Peace, not Death!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 22, 2017
The latest sanctions, proposed by the US to prevent Pyongyang from furthering its nuclear programme, were the third imposed this year.
An estimated 93,000 North Koreans work abroad and send money back home, helping the government to fund its weapons programmes.
The sanctions, which also prohibit the supply of industrial machinery to North Korea and the purchase of food and agricultural products from the country, are a response to North Korea’s test-launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile on November 29.
James Mattis, the American defence chief, said on Friday that “storm clouds are gathering” over the Korean Peninsula as he urged US troops to be ready if war breaks out – though he emphasised diplomacy was the best way forward.
“My fine young soldiers, the only way our diplomats can speak with authority and be believed is if you’re ready to go,” Mattis told dozens of troops at the Fort Bragg military base.
The US has nearly 28,000 soldiers permanently stationed in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 war.
Both Russia and China supported the new sanctions, despite previously raising concerns that not enough was being done diplomatically.
Wu Haitao, China’s deputy ambassador to the UN, highlighted while North Korea has continued its missile and nuclear tests, the United States and South Korea have also carried out military exercises that Pyongyang views as a rehearsal for an invasion.
“The escalation of tension on the peninsula, which has reached the point of risking spiralling out of control, is not in the interest of any parties,” said Wu.
He pressed Pyongyang to “refrain from conducting any further nuclear and missile tests”.
Al Jazeera’s Divya Gopalan, reporting from Hong Kong, highlighted the fact that China chose to vote against its ally.
“The fact that China agreed to that level of food cuts and will be transparent about how much oil it will be sending North Korea is seen as a major change in stance,” Gopalan said.
“But China stopped short of halting all fuel supplies. Beijing’s concerned it will lead to a collapse of the regime and escalate tensions even further.”
The US has said no diplomatic talks can take place without a “full cessation” of North Korea’s nuclear programme.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres praised the “continued unity” of the Security Council in forging the resolution and urged its members to continue pursuing the denuclearisation of North Korea through peaceful means.
“The only way forward for a comprehensive peaceful and political solution requires de-escalation and open communication channels now,” his spokesperson said in a statement on Friday.