Trump: North Korea sanctions 'not a big deal'

Trump: North Korea sanctions 'not a big deal'
© Getty Images

President Trump on Tuesday lauded the United Nations Security Council for unanimously approving new sanctions against North Korea, but he questioned whether they will have “any impact” on its nuclear program. 

“It’s just another very small step. Not a big deal … I don’t know if it has any impact, but certainly it was nice to get a 15-0 vote,” Trump said during a White House meeting with Malaysia’s prime minister. 

The president said the fresh penalties “are nothing compared to what ultimately will have to happen” to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Monday’s U.S.-backed Security Council resolution imposed the toughest sanctions yet on North Korea in order to ramp up economic pressure in response to its latest nuclear test. 

But the sanctions package was watered down to win the support of Russia and China. It capped North Korea’s oil exports, banned textile exports and prohibited countries worldwide from providing new work permits to North Korean workers. 

The Security Council stopped short of imposing a total oil import ban, freezing the assets of leader Kim Jong Un or slapping him with a travel ban, as the Trump administration initially wanted. 

All those activities are thought to help fund the nuclear-weapons program.  

Trump has repeatedly refused to rule out using a military strike to take out some of North Korea's nuclear facilities. He has also cast doubt on the chance that negotiations could lead Kim to drop his nuclear ambitions.

North Korea’s government blasted the sanctions and claimed the U.S. would “suffer the greatest pain ever” for supporting them.

“My delegation condemns in the strongest terms and categorically rejects the latest illegal and unlawful U.N. Security Council resolution,” North Korean Ambassador Han Tae Song told the U.N.-sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.