BEIJING/SEOUL (Reuters) - The latest U.N. sanctions against North Korea are an act of war and tantamount to a complete economic blockade against it, North Korea’s foreign ministry said on Sunday, threatening to punish those who supported the measure.
The U.N. Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea on Friday for its recent intercontinental ballistic missile test, seeking to limit its access to refined petroleum products and crude oil and its earnings from workers abroad.
The U.N. resolution seeks to ban nearly 90 percent of refined petroleum exports to North Korea by capping them at 500,000 barrels a year and, in a last-minute change, demands the repatriation of North Koreans working abroad within 24 months, instead of 12 months as first proposed.
The U.S.-drafted resolution also caps crude oil supplies to North Korea at 4 million barrels a year and commits the Council to further reductions if it were to conduct another nuclear test or launch another ICBM.
In a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency, North Korea’s foreign ministry said the United States was terrified by its nuclear force and was getting “more and more frenzied in the moves to impose the harshest-ever sanctions and pressure on our country”.
The new resolution was tantamount to a complete economic blockade of North Korea, the ministry said.
“We define this ‘sanctions resolution’ rigged up by the U.S. and its followers as a grave infringement upon the sovereignty of our Republic, as an act of war violating peace and stability in the Korean peninsula and the region and categorically reject the ‘resolution’,” it said.
“There is no more fatal blunder than the miscalculation that the U.S. and its followers could check by already worn-out ‘sanctions’ the victorious advance of our people who have brilliantly accomplished the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force”, the ministry said.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Nov. 29 declared the nuclear force complete after the test of North Korea’s largest-ever ICBM test, which the country said puts all of the United States within range.
Kim told a meeting of members of the ruling Workers’ Party on Friday that the country “successfully realized the historic cause of completing the state nuclear force” despite “short supply in everything and manifold difficulties and ordeals owing to the despicable anti-DPRK moves of the enemies”.
North Korea’s official name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
South Korea’s foreign ministry told Reuters it is aware of the North Korean statement on the new sanctions, again highlighting its position that they are a “grave warning by the international community that the region has no option but to immediately cease reckless provocations, and take the path of dialogue for denuclearization and peace”.
‘BALANCE OF FORCE’
The North Korean foreign ministry said its nuclear weapons were a self-defensive deterrence not in contradiction of international law.
“We will further consolidate our self-defensive nuclear deterrence aimed at fundamentally eradicating the U.S. nuclear threats, blackmail and hostile moves by establishing the practical balance of force with the U.S,” it said.
“The U.S. should not forget even a second the entity of the DPRK which rapidly emerged as a strategic state capable of posing a substantial nuclear threat to the U.S. mainland,” it added.
North Korea said those who voted for the sanctions would face its wrath.
“Those countries that raised their hands in favor of this ‘sanctions resolution’ shall be held completely responsible for all the consequences to be caused by the ‘resolution’ and we will make sure for ever and ever that they pay heavy price for what they have done.”
The North’s old allies China and Russia both supported the latest U.N. sanctions.
Tension has been rising over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, which it pursues in defiance of years of U.N. Security Council resolutions, with bellicose rhetoric coming from both Pyongyang and the White House.
In November, North Korea demanded a halt to what it called “brutal sanctions”, saying a round imposed after its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3 constituted genocide.
U.S. diplomats have made clear they are seeking a diplomatic solution but proposed the new, tougher sanctions resolution to ratchet up pressure on North Korea’s leader.
A "transition period" after the UK leaves the EU should not continue beyond 31 December 2020, Brussels says.
This would put a 21-month limit on the temporary arrangement - the UK says it should last for about two years.
And some business groups have called for a much longer transition period once the UK leaves in March 2019.
The terms of the transition period, which the UK calls an implementation phase, have yet to be negotiated between the two sides.
The EU says the UK will have to continue to follow its rules and cannot adopt an "a la carte" approach.
It has just published its guidelines for the next phase of Brexit negotiations.
These talks will initially focus on agreeing the precise terms of the transition phase, before moving on to the UK and EU's long-term future relationship.
What is a transition phase?
It will be a temporary period after the UK leaves the EU and before the final arrangements kick in. Both sides have talked about having such an arrangement, although they use different names for it.
The UK says the "implementation phase" will avoid a "cliff edge" for businesses on Brexit day.
The European Commission's guidelines state that the UK should continue to follow EU law and stay in the European customs union and single market during the transition phase. Rulings of the European Court of Justice will continue to apply, it says.
"The transition period needs to be clearly defined and precisely limited in time," the EU says.
"The commission recommends that it should not last beyond 31 December 2020."
This date marks the end of the EU's seven-year budget cycle.
Giving evidence to a committee of MPs, Prime Minister Theresa May said a 31 December 2020 cut-off offered a "neatness" for the EU, but suggested the length of the transition phase would be a matter for the negotiations.
Long-term, the UK has already said it plans to leave the customs union and single market and end the supremacy of EU court rulings as part of Brexit.
Some Brexit-supporting Tory MPs have warned the UK could become a "colony" of the EU during the transition period if it continues to closely follow the same rules.
Done and dusted by 2019?
Looking beyond the transition phase, the UK is hoping to strike a "comprehensive" and "bespoke" trade deal with the European Union to replace its membership of the single market and customs union.
Talks on this have not started and the European Union says it will not have been fully agreed by the time the UK leaves in March 2019.
But Mrs May disagrees - asked earlier whether she still believes the entire agreement can be negotiated by Brexit day, she said: "That is what we are working to and that is what I believe we can do."
The prime minister said the UK would "start off at a different point" from other countries because of its current trade relationship with the EU.
The overseas territory of Gibraltar - whose sovereignty is disputed by Spain - has been raised as a potential sticking point in Brexit negotiations.
The EU has said that Spain must agree to any arrangement between the UK and the EU applying to Gibraltar, a stance reiterated in the latest negotiating guidelines.
Asked whether he expected Spain to agree to the transitional arrangement covering Gibraltar, Mr Barnier said decisions on the issue would be "made for the 27, unanimously, by consensus".
Later in Prime Minister's Questions, Theresa May was asked to promise not to enter into any agreement that excluded Gibraltar.
She said the UK would not exclude Gibraltar from either the temporary implementation period or the long-term future agreement with the EU.
With depleting reserves top of mind, they expect more focus on exploration and inter-company collaboration to develop assets. There’s consensus that large-scale mergers and acquisitions are a thing of the past and the rising interest in bitcoin poses no threat to gold. But opinion is split on whether miners will be able to grow, or even maintain production, without letting the hard-won cost discipline of past years fly out the window.
Gary Goldberg, Newmont Mining
“Most of the companies out there are pretty healthy. So to make M&A happen, either there’s got to be some other form of value that people see, or they’re going to pay some pretty hefty premiums.”
Gold should stay in the $1,200 to $1,300 an ounce range, with large breakouts unlikely
Long-term prices should be supported by strong demand from China, India, interest in gold ETFs and tightening supply
“We still see gold supply over the next five or six years dropping off from the 103 million ounce range into the mid-90 million ounce range.”
Industry must address depleting reserves while maintaining cost discipline
Blockchain is “pretty cool technology,” but Goldberg has no interest in cryptocurrencies
Sees no signs bitcoin is hurting gold demand
Will hike dividend at least 50 percent, details in February
Watching U.S. tax revamp for final corporate rate and clarity on how the alternative minimum tax, and especially depletion allowance, will shake out
Focus on advancing internal projects/exploration while keeping costs down
“We’re still out there competing for talent, competing for access to finances, and competing for access to resources”
No need to pay down any debt early or buy and sell assets
Still interested in buying Barrick’s stake in Kalgoorlie at the right value
On moving ahead of Barrick by market cap -- and closing production gap:
“It’s one of the many metrics that we keep track of along the way in terms of our performance.”
Kelvin Dushnisky, Barrick Gold
“Looking into 2018 and beyond, the focus is going to be returning more capital to shareholders when we can. We’ll do that through dividends or possibly share buybacks.”
Sees gold in $1,200-1,300 range in 2018, with higher prices beyond
Demand from gold ETF investors, China and India, plus potential U.S. equity pull-back good for gold
Falling global reserve grades also support gold price
Biggest risk would be “an unexpected strengthening in the U.S. currency”
Copper market will be balanced in 2018 with demand exceeding supply further out
Industry to stay focused on costs
Large-scale M&A unlikely as “mega-deals” of past failed to deliver value
“Shareholders are justifiably skeptical of large-scale M&A in the sector, so I don’t think you’ll see a return to that kind of activity any time soon”
Some consolidation possible through medium-sized “bolt-on acquisitions”
Hard to see cryptocurrencies replacing physical gold, which has finite supply
Bitcoin correction would offer “helpful reminder” of role of gold as store of value
Plans to balance need to reinvest, cut debt, with shareholder returns
Increased focus on reserves through mine exploration and project-pipeline investment
Watching U.S. tax reform closely, believes initial concerns about AMT will be resolved
“ If that’s the case, I think we’ll be in a very good position in terms of U.S. tax”
On widening gap with Newmont:
Expects share price to improve after company provides more clarity at investor day in February around project pipeline, mine exploration and contribution of copper assets to cash flow, all of which may be undervalued by market
Don Lindsay, Teck Resources
“When the positive steelmaking-coal demand picture is combined with a supply side which is prone to significant disruptions, we see prices staying well above analyst consensus forecasts.”
Steelmaking coal, zinc and copper prices all expected to be strong
Sees zinc inventories, already at low levels, continuing to fall
Production not seen filling structural supply gap
Steelmaking coal supported by healthy steel industry and improving global output
Sees strong demand from India, Europe, Vietnam, Brazil, less dependence on China
Copper supply will peak in 2019 and then move into structural deficit
Clean energy creating significant new copper demand, especially in China and India
“Current targets by China and India for solar and wind power installation could add over 10 million tons of new cumulative demand by 2030”
Mining industry likely to focus on growth
For senior companies, “we think that M&A will be extremely limited”
Even distressed selling of past years was done at “very full valuations” and there are limited attractive opportunities
Some consolidation of mid-sized to small companies may be possible
Biggest challenge is maintaining discipline over costs, productivity and capital allocation
Teck will focus on optimizing operations, advancing priority projects and balancing capital expenditures with shareholder returns