US President Donald Trump has described as “a very small step,” the latest round of United Nations sanctions against North Korea, calling for tougher measures to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Trump made the remarks on Tuesday, a day after the UN Security Council voted unanimously to impose additional economic sanctions against North Korea following its underground hydrogen bomb test on September 3.
“We think it’s just another very small step -- not a big deal,” the US president said. "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.”
The Security Council slapped a ban on textile exports and restricted shipments of oil products to punish Pyongyang for its sixth and largest nuclear test.
The ban stopped short of the toughest-ever measures sought by the Trump administration against all oil imports and the international assets freeze of the North Korean government and its leader Kim Jong-un. The Security Council resolution also prohibited any country from authorizing new work permits for North Korean workers.
Early on Tuesday, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs held a bipartisan hearing to review US sanctions on North Korea, including calls to cut off the northeast Asian nation’s ties to banks.
“These banks are not complying with the Security Council,” said Representative Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the committee. “So I would say this is where the discussion needs to go next because what is at risk is national security. And there is only one way to shut it down -- with revenues.”
Democratic lawmakers, however, accused Trump of worsening the increasingly tense standoff with Pyongyang by his belligerent comments and tweets.
"He talked about the response of the United States of 'fire and fury,'" said Representative Gerald Connolly, a Virginia Democrat. "Frankly, the policy looks more like fecklessness and failure."
The Monday resolution is the eighth against Pyongyang since 2006. So far, harsh sanctions have been imposed on the North over its ballistic missile and nuclear programs. The previous round of sanctions was adopted just last month after Pyongyang launched two long-range missiles in July.
Punitive measures have so far failed to stop the North’s nuclear weapons program. Pyongyang says it needs to continue and develop its military program as a deterrent in the face of hostile policies by the United States and its regional allies, including South Korea and Japan.
The North conducted its sixth and biggest nuclear test on September 3. The hydrogen bomb was much more powerful than America’s atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945.