Banning Flippers? North Korea lashes out at trade sanctions

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North Korea on Friday lashed out at international sanctions over its nuclear and missile programs, saying they are being used to block everything from frozen chicken to swimming flippers.

In an unusually detailed and lengthy statement, North Korea's Foreign Ministry stuck by its longstanding claim that the country has the right to develop nuclear weapons to defend itself against the United States, which it said under President Donald Trump is now openly trying to "suffocate" its economy.

It added that if testing or possessing nuclear weapons should be sanctioned, then the U.S. and other nuclear superpowers should be subject to sanctions as well.

The statement included a long list of non-military-use items that it says have been impacted by the trade bans, including frozen chicken, diving flippers for a dolphin show and an array of sports equipment including skis, yachts, mountaineering boots, snowmobiles, snow groomers, billiard tables, archery equipment and sporting guns.

"Archery equipment would never become ballistic rockets and sports rifles could never be used to launch nuclear warheads, but some countries either being overpowered by or blindly following the high-handed practices of the hostile forces are bringing disgrace to the ideal and purpose of sports," the statement said.

It said public health and humanitarian assistance have been affected as well.

The statement directly criticized efforts by Trump to tighten pressure on North Korea, saying Washington and its supporters are trying to "completely suffocate" the country's economy and "impoverish the people's livelihood."

North Korea has been concerned by the advent of the Trump administration and the possibility of tougher policies than those carried out by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Following a recent series of high-profile North Korean missile tests, the U.S. earlier this month led an effort at the U.N. to pass a resolution adding more North Korean individuals and entities linked to its nuclear and missile programs to a sanctions blacklist.

The resolution expressed serious concern that North Korea continues to violate previous U.N. resolutions with launches and attempted launches of ballistic missiles, and that its nuclear and missile activities threaten international peace and security. The Security Council has repeatedly demanded that North Korea abandon all nuclear weapons programs and halt all nuclear and missile tests.

The Security Council had already imposed six rounds of sanctions on North Korea.