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Haley: Sanctions will 'starve' N Korea into ending nuclear programme

NEW YORK - US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Monday her country was "not looking for war" with North Korea, as the UN Security Council unanimously passed new sanctions she said would "starve the regime" into stopping its nuclear programme.

New bans on textile exports and overseas workers sending hard currency back to Pyongyang would starve the regime of at least 1.3 billion dollars in annual revenues - an estimated 800 million and 500 million dollars respectively, Haley said.

The measures agreed to by the 15-member Security Council also cap crude oil exports at current levels and limit refined petroleum sales to two million barrels annually.

"We are done trying to prod the regime to do the right thing," Haley said after the vote, which followed Pyongyang's claim that it had tested a hydrogen bomb on September 3.

The original US proposal for the sanctions would have placed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on an international blacklist and implemented a full ban on selling oil to his regime.

Haley struck a softer tone Monday than she had last week, when she said Kim Jong Un was "begging for war" and US patience was "not unlimited."

"We must stop its march towards a nuclear arsenal with the ability to deliver it anywhere in the world," she said of North Korea. "We must do that by cutting off the fuel and the funding that supports it."

"We are not looking for war. The North Korean regime has not yet passed the point of no return. If it proves it can live in peace, the world will live in peace with it," Haley added.

While Russia voted in favour of the sanctions, ambassador Vassily Nebenzia warned that "further restrictions could be tantamount to attempts to suffocate the economy" and hit innocent civilians rather than cutting off funding to Pyongyang's ballistic missile and nuclear programme.

Nebenzia also said it was a "big mistake" to ignore the Russian-Chinese initiative to restart dialogue with Pyongyang.

China's Foreign Ministry showed public support for the UN sanctions, saying Tuesday in Beijing that they reflected the unanimous stance of UN Security Council members towards peace on the Korean peninsula.

"The Chinese side hopes that this resolution will be implemented comprehensively and completely," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said, according to the official news agency Xinhua.

Geng said the resolution supported the resumption of six-party talks and called for measures to de-escalate tensions on the peninsula. An editorial by Xinhua also said, however, that the likelihood that Pyongyang will give in to the punitive measures is "tragically low."

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomed the resolution saying it "made clear the will of the international community" while Seoul said Pyongyang should accept the UN resolution as a "strict warning."

Beijing and Moscow have recently called for a freeze-for-freeze agreement with North Korea, which would see the US and South Korea halt military drills on the Korean Peninsula in exchange for Pyongyang stopping its nuclear and ballistic missile programme.

Haley last week called the proposal "insulting" and said the US has maintained that North Korea needs to halt their activities before talks can take place.

Monday's measures come on top of sanctions agreed to by the UN five weeks ago that were expected to cut roughly 1 billion dollars from the country's 3 billion in annual export revenue.

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