United States President Donald Trump has touted new sanctions the UN Security Council approved for North Korea, saying they will have a "very big financial impact".
- UN sanctions could cost North Korea a third of its annual export revenue
- New joint ventures with North Korea are also banned
- The US says it will continue to take prudent defensive measures to protect itself and allies
The Security Council unanimously approved the sanctions on North Korea, including banning coal and other exports worth over $1 billion.
The US-drafted measure, negotiated with North Korea's neighbour and ally China, is aimed at increasing economic pressure on Pyongyang to return to negotiations on its nuclear and missile programs.
Mr Trump wrote on Twitter that China and Russia voted with the US to pass what he called "the single largest economic sanctions package ever" on North Korea.
Mr Trump's national security adviser, HR McMaster, stressed in an interview that aired earlier in the day that it is "impossible to overstate the danger" posed by North Korea.
In an interview with MSNBC's Hugh Hewitt, Mr McMaster said Mr Trump has been "deeply briefed" on the strategy on North Korea.
Tensions have mounted with Pyongyang's two recent successful tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Mr McMaster reiterated the administration's position that all options, including a targeted military strike, are on the table.
Still, he acknowledged this "would be a very costly war, in terms of … terms of the suffering of mainly the South Korean people".
McMaster continued: "So what we have to do is — is everything we can to — to pressure this regime, to pressure Kim Jong Un and those around him such that they conclude it is in their interest to denuclearise."
The comments came as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in the Philippines for a regional summit expected to focus heavily on concerns with North Korea.
Mr Tillerson has no plans to sit down with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho at the event.
He said this week that such talks would have to be predicated on the North giving up its nuclear weapons aspirations and that the conditions for such talks have not yet been met by North Korea's Government.
Threat of North Korea still remains
The US-drafted resolution bans North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood.
It also prohibits countries from increasing the current numbers of North Korean laborers working abroad, bans new joint ventures with North Korea and any new investment in current joint ventures.
"We should not fool ourselves into thinking we have solved the problem. Not even close," US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the council.
"The North Korean threat has not left us, it is rapidly growing more dangerous," she said.
"Further action is required. The United States is taking and will continue to take prudent defensive measures to protect ourselves and our allies," she added, saying that Washington would continue annual joint military exercises with South Korea.
In late July, North Korea announced it conducted a second successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, which proved its ability to strike America's mainland.
North Korea has accused the US and South Korea of escalating tensions by conducting military drills.
North Korean ally China and Russia both slammed the US deployment of the THAAD anti-missile defence system in South Korea.
China's UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi called for a halt to the deployment and for any equipment in place to be dismantled.
Mr Liu also urged North Korea to "cease taking actions that might further escalate tensions".
US pressure on China
Russia's UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said he hoped recent remarks by Mr Tillerson "were sincere — that the US is not seeking to dismantle the existing [North Korea] situation or to forcibly unite the peninsula or to militarily intervene in the country".
While the Security Council has been divided on how to deal with other international crises like Syria, the 15-member body has remained relatively united on North Korea. Still, negotiating new measures typically takes months, not weeks.
North Korea has been under UN sanctions since 2006 over its ballistic missile and nuclear programs and the Security Council has now ratcheted up the measures in response to five nuclear weapons tests and four long-range missile launches.
What is an ICBM and how far can one travel?
- Intercontinental ballistic (ICBM) missiles can fly thousands of kilometres and carry nuclear weapons
- The missiles are similar in construction to rockets which launch people into space
- The US has numerous interceptors in place, but their effectiveness to bring down ICBMs is yet to be tested
The United States negotiated with China for a month on the latest resolution, before expanding negotiations to the full 15-member council.
Mr Trump's administration has been frustrated that China has not done more to rein in North Korea.
Washington has threatened to exert trade pressure on Beijing and impose sanctions on Chinese firms doing business with Pyongyang.
"We had tough negotiations this week," Ms Haley said.