The United Nations Security Council has backed an escalation of sanctions against North Korea, warning the country over its nuclear ambitions.
At a meeting in New York the council unanimously approved new sanctions including banning exports worth more than £770 million.
The sanctions come as the UK’s ambassador to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, warned that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s nuclear ambitions could be “catastrophic for the world”.
The resolution also bans countries from giving any additional permits to North Korean workers – a crucial source of foreign currency for the regime but a situation labelled “a form of modern slavery” by Mr Rycroft.
The 49-year-old called on the pariah state to “halt and reverse” its nuclear and missile development programmes, urging the country to “forgo the path of provocation”.
He continued: “North Korea bears full responsibility for the measures we have enacted today. By acting in flagrant violation of its legal obligations, by going against the will of the Security Council expressed in countless resolutions, North Korea has chosen the path it now finds itself on.
“It is a path that, at a minimum, will lead to further suffering for its own people and at most could prove to be catastrophic for the whole world.
“It does not have to be this way. North Korea should forgo the path of provocation, forgo the path of further escalation.”
The sanctions follow North Korea’s first successful tests of a intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching the United States in July.
The resolution bans North Korea from exporting coal, iron ore, lead and seafood products – the “lifeline exports that sustain Kim Jong Un’s deadly aspirations”, Mr Rycroft said.
He added: “North Korea is no longer a threat faced by a single country or a single region. It is instead a threat that confronts us all.”
He said as the regime’s missile capabilities advanced “so too does their contempt and disregard for this Security Council”.
“We must meet this belligerence with clear, unequivocal condemnation and with clear, unequivocal consequences.”
While the new sanctions were drafted by the US, they were negotiated with Pyongyang’s neighbour and ally, China, and are aimed at increasing the economic pressure on North Korea to return to negotiations on its nuclear and missile programmes.
US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said: “The price the North Korean leadership will pay for its continued nuclear and missile development will be the loss of one third of its export and hard currency.
“This is the most stringent set of sanctions on any country in a generation.”