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(2nd LD) Obama welcomes new U.N. sanctions on N. Korea as 'firm, united, and appropriate response'

All Headlines 04:20 March 03, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with White House comments in last 2 paras)

WASHINGTON, March 2 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday welcomed the latest U.N. sanctions on North Korea as "a firm, united, and appropriate response by the international community" to provocations by the communist regime.

The U.N. Security Council unanimously passed the sanctions resolution, significantly tightening the screws on the communist nation, which sparked global outrage with its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6 and its long-range missile launch on Feb. 7 in violation of U.N. bans.

"This resolution levies strong new sanctions aimed at halting Pyongyang's efforts to advance its weapons of mass destruction programs," Obama said in a statement. "I have consistently said that the DPRK would face consequences for its actions, and I welcome this resolution as a firm, united, and appropriate response by the international community to the DPRK's recent provocations that flagrantly violated multiple Security Council resolutions.

"Today, the international community, speaking with one voice, has sent Pyongyang a simple message: North Korea must abandon these dangerous programs and choose a better path for its people," he added.

The new sanctions, the toughest ever to be imposed on Pyongyang, require mandatory inspection of all cargo going in and out of the North, regardless of whether by land, sea or air, while banning its exports of coal, iron and other mineral resources, a key source of hard currency that accounts for nearly half of the country's total exports.

It also prohibits all sales of small arms and other conventional weapons to the North, bans jet and rocket fuel supplies to the country, grounds North Korean flights suspected of carrying contraband and denies vessels carrying illicit items access to ports.

Secretary of State John Kerry also issued a statement, saying the resolution reflects "the firm and united resolve of the international community to address Pyongyang’s continued defiance of its international obligations and commitments.

"This resolution contains the toughest set of sanctions imposed by the Security Council in more than two decades, and includes mandatory cargo inspections, sectoral sanctions on North Korean trade in natural resources, and other rigorous provisions unprecedented in the North Korean sanctions regime," Kerry said.

"Today's action, and the international consensus it represents, will hold the regime to account for its increasingly provocative behavior and the threat it poses to not only security on the peninsula, but also to the world," he said.

Kerry also said that with the resolution, the U.S. renews "our collective resolve to take concerted action to counter this threat posed by North Korea's proscribed programs and proliferation activities worldwide."

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the new U.N. sanctions are the "most extensive multilateral sanctions measures to date," and aimed not at increasing the suffering of the North Korean people, but at increasing costs on Pyongyang's leadership for pursuing nuclear and missile programs.

Earnest also said that it is unclear how the North will react to the new sanctions, but the U.S. has taken "a number of steps to ensure that our allies in the region and the American people here at home are protected from North Korea's potential capabilities."

jschang@yna.co.kr
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