U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday downplayed the latest round of UN sanctions to punish North Korea for its sixth nuclear test, saying they are “nothing” compared to what will “ultimately have to happen.”
The UN Security Council on Monday evening voted unanimously to freeze North Korean imports of crude oil at the current levels and cap imports of refined petroleum products at half of the current levels. It also banned North Korean textile exports, an important source of revenue for the regime.
“We think it’s just another very small step, not a big deal,” Trump said during a meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak. He was accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
“I don’t know if it has any impact, but certainly it was nice to get a 15 to nothing vote, but those sanctions are nothing compared to what ultimately will have to happen,” Trump said. He did not specify whether he was referring to the use of military action against North Korea.
Prior to Monday’s vote at the United Nations, the U.S. had tried to push for a complete oil embargo in an attempt to disrupt North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. The U.S. dropped the oil embargo to avoid a potential veto from China and Russia, both of which have argued for talks with North Korea.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have been rising for months, fueled by North Korea’s frequent missile tests and its advancing nuclear weapons program, as well as U.S. military exercises and threatening statements by Trump.
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