President Trump's top diplomat at the United Nations said Monday that the new package of sanctions against North Korea are "by far the strongest measures ever imposed" on the regime following a week of negotiations with China and Russia.
"This will cut deep," Ambassador Nikki Haley said following a unanimous vote to adopt the sanctions, levied in response to North Korea's latest nuclear test. "They give us a much better chance to halt the regime's ability to fuel and finance its nuclear and missile programs."
The sanctions, targeting North Korea's oil imports and textile imports — as well as its ability to profit from North Korean forced laborers working overseas — should deprive the pariah state of $1.3 billion annually. Haley coupled that tally with rhetorical nods to the regime and its international backers, by emphasizing that the United States has no desire to overthrow North Korea or cause humanitarian suffering through sanctions.
But she also rejected the idea of acquiescing to North Korea's military ambitions.
"Today, we are attempting to take the future of the North Korean nuclear program out of the hands of it's outlaw regime," Haley said.
North Korea has conducted a flurry of ballistic missile and nuclear weapons tests, raising alarms that the regime is nearly capable of striking the United States with a nuclear weapon. Haley compared the threat to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
"That day the United States saw that mass murder can come from a clear blue sky on a beautiful Tuesday morning," Haley said. "But today, they threat to the United states and the world is not coming out of the blue. The North Korean regime has demonstrated that it will not act on its own to end its nuclear program. The civilized world must do what the regime refuses to do. We must stop it's march toward a nuclear arsenal with the ability to deliver it anywhere in the world."
The United States and other western allies had sought an even tougher sanctions package, arguing in favor of an oil embargo on North Korea and a freeze of dictator Kim Jong-un's assets. China and Russia balked at that proposal, but agreed to a milder resolution that restricted oil imports more gradually.
Haley opted to hail the half-loaf, while implicitly warning China not to tolerate loopholes or partial implementation of the new sanctions.
"We all know these steps only work if all nations implement them completely and aggressively," she said. "Today's resolution would not have happened without the strong relationship that has developed between President Trump and Chinese President Xi [Jinping] and we greatly appreciate both teams working with us."
She also offered a sort of olive branch to North Korea.
"We are not looking for war," Haley emphasized. "The North Korean regime has not yet passed the point of no-return. If it agrees to stop it's nuclear program, it can reclaim it's future. If it proves it can live in peace, the world will live in peace with it. On the other hand, if North Korea continues its dangerous path, we will continue with further pressure. The choice is theirs."