A North Korean restaurant is open for business in Dandong, China's largest border city with North Korea. Beijing has not yet imposed the U.N. sanctions as law domestically, but is taking precautions. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo
SEOUL, March 4 (UPI) -- North Korea has slammed the United States and South Korea in the wake of tougher sanctions, but its relations with China and Russia could also be hanging in the balance.
In a televised statement Friday, North Korea lambasted the United States and "other major powers" for the sanctions that passed unanimously at the United Nations Security Council, where China and Russia are permanent members.
While Pyongyang did not call its traditional allies out by name, "major powers" was referring to the two countries that have been delaying the vote. China and Russia have had reservations about tightening restrictions against North Korea trade, South Korean newspaper Herald Business reported.
These "major powers," North Korea said, should be held responsible for the sanctions resolution that could "blatantly isolate and crush a sovereign state" and called the bill the "most heinous act of international crime."
The North's statement comes at a time when relations with China are strained owing to different approaches to North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Both China and Russia have urged denuclearization and a return to the six-party talks, but Pyongyang has not responded to the calls.
China, for its part, has agreed to the toughest sanctions yet in its 70-year history at the Security Council, and cooperation with the United States in the past 50 days was key to arriving at an accord with the sanction's provisions.
Beijing has not yet imposed the U.N. sanctions as law domestically, but is taking precautions.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters Friday exports to North Korea for its population's "welfare purposes" will not be affected by the embargo, and that exports of coal, iron and other natural resources going toward civilian use will continue.