The United Nations Security Council unanimously imposed tough new sanctions on North Korea on Friday in retaliation for its recent illegal ballistic missile tests.
The new penalties seek up to a 90 percent reduction in refined petroleum imports from summer 2017 levels, capping crude oil supplies to North Korea to just 500,000 barrels per year, and also bans all previously allowed exports.
The sanctions require all countries with North Korean laborers earning wages to repatriate the workers within two years.
China, the North’s main trading partner, and Russia, where many of North Korea’s workers are sent, backed the U.S.-drafted measure in a sign of growing displeasure with Pyongyang.
Prior to the vote, France's UN ambassador, Francois Delattre said, "we believe maximum pressure today is our best lever to a political and diplomatic solution tomorrow.
"Make no mistake about it, maximum firmness is also our best antidote to the risk of war," he told reporters.
North Korea said its last missile test Nov. 29 was of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could strike any part of the continental United States.
The U.S. has been seeking increased pressure on North Korea following a series of unprecedented ballistic missile and nuclear tests this year. The programs run afoul of several Security Council resolutions.
Nikki Haley, the U.S.’s envoy to the UN, said shortly after the vote the resolution "sends the unambiguous message to Pyongyang that further defiance will invite further punishment and isolation.”
Citing the Nov. 29 test, she added: "For the international community, this is an unprecedented challenge from a defiant state. So we have leveled an unprecedented response.”
In another heated exchange with the U.S., North Korean leader Kim Jong-un insisted Friday before the vote that "nobody can deny" the threat his country poses to the U.S.
Celebrating the North's development of nuclear weapons in defiance of the UN, including last month's latest long-range missile test, Kim was speaking at a Workers' Party conference a day earlier.
Pyongyang's KCNA news agency said he described North Korea as having "rapidly emerged as a strategic state capable of posing a substantial nuclear threat to the U.S."
While U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson offered unconditional talks with Pyongyang earlier this month, he quickly backtracked and realigned with Washington's policy of allowing sanctions to bite -- insisting good behavior must come before dialogue.
But with less than 50 days until South Korea hosts the Winter Olympics, Seoul is pushing to defuse tensions early.
*Betul Yuruk in New York contributed to this report
By Michael Hernandez in Washington