- (Photo: Reuters/Brendan McDermid)
On Thursday, the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted to punish North Korea for its February nuclear test, imposing a fourth round of tougher sanctions on the Asian country.
The sanction vote came hours after the country threatened a preemptive nuclear attack against the U.S.
In a statement released by the Korean Central News Agency, considered to be a mouthpiece for the state, the country argued that the United States "is set to light a fuse for a nuclear war," adding that, in response, North Korea "will exercise the right to a preemptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors and to defend the supreme interests of the country."
According to The Guardian, the sanctions voted upon Thursday by the 15-member U.N. Security Council primarily involve North Korea's relationship with China, and include stricter financial regulation between the two countries, as well as more thorough cargo inspections.
Additionally, the new sanctions specifically bar the northbound exportation of yachts and racing cars from North Korea.
"These sanctions will bite, and bite hard," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said after the vote, according to CNN.
Additionally, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, a former South Korean foreign minister, said that the sanctions "sent an unequivocal message to [the North] that the international community will not tolerate its pursuit of nuclear weapons," according to The Guardian.
China, which usually works as North Korea's closest ally, approved of the sanctions, arguing that it is committed to avoiding nuclear violence.
"China is a country of principle," China U.N. Ambassador Li Baodong reportedly said, according to CNN. "We are firmly committed to safeguarding peace and stability on the Korean peninsula."
In February, North Korea violated U.N. resolutions by conducting a publicly-announced nuclear weapon test while also claiming that it had secured an advanced nuclear arsenal.
The majority of critics contend that in spite of North Korea's threats, the country does not have the advanced technology to create a warhead and missile capable of reaching the United States.
As The Associated Press contends, critics argue that it is possible the Asian country has enough nuclear fuel to create crude nuclear devices.
The country is also at heightened odds with its longtime rival, South Korea, which is currently in the process of practicing joint, defensive military exercises with the United States.
On Tuesday, North Korea threatened to scrap the armistice which halted war with its South Korean neighbor in 1953, even though South Korea assured the country that its routine military exercises with the U.S. were for defensive purposes.
In addition to North Korea's abrasive international relations, the country has long been criticized by global human rights groups for religious intolerance, as well as allowing the majority of the population to starve while the country's leader, Kim Jong-Un, lives an extravagant lifestyle.
The World Food Program has reported that one in three children in North Korea is malnourished or stunted in growth for their age.
Open Doors USA has ranked North Korea the No.1 Christian persecutor for 11 straight years.
Christianity is illegal in North Korea, and those who claim Christ as their Savior are often thrown into labor concentration camps.