WASHINGTON — The U.N. Security Council unanimously passed tougher sanctions against North Korea Thursday targeting the secretive nation’s nuclear program hours after Pyongyang threatened a possible “preemptive nuclear attack.”
“These sanctions will bite, and bite hard,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said after the vote.
China, North Korea’s key ally, could have used its veto power to block the sanctions. Instead, after weeks of negotiating, it signed on to the final draft.
“China is a country of principle,” China’s U.N. Ambassador Li Baodong said. “We are firmly committed to safeguarding peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.”
Leading up to the vote, Pyongyang ratcheted up its bellicose rhetoric.
A spokesman for the North Korean foreign ministry suggested the United States “is set to light a fuse for a nuclear war.”
As a result, North Korea “will exercise the right to a preemptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors and to defend the supreme interests of the country,” the country said in a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
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