North Korea: US sanctions amount to 'declaration of a war'

North Korea blasted new U.S. sanctions on the rogue nation in no uncertain terms Thursday, saying the penalties amounted to a "declaration of a war," the AFP reported.

The Kim Jong Un's regime vowed to retaliate, according to its statement.

The Treasury Department imposed sanctions on the dictator and 10 other senior officials Wednesday over human rights abuses. It was the first time North Korean officials were blacklisted by the U.S. over rights violations, such as running the nation's notorious gulag.

The sanctions affect property and assets within U.S. jurisdiction, Reuters reported.

Pyongyang’s foreign ministry said in response that the sanctions constituted the "worst hostile act," according to a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency.

Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters Thursday during a visit to Ukraine that North Korean officials at all levels need to know there are consequences for their actions and hopes they "might consider the implications."

Kerry said he spoke to his Chinese counterpart on Wednesday. He said he reiterated the importance of China's help in pressuring Kim over his nuclear weapons program.

"Under Kim Jong Un, North Korea continues to inflict intolerable cruelty and hardship on millions of its own people, including extrajudicial killings, forced labor, and torture," said Adam J. Szubin, the Treasury Department’s Acting Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, in a statement released Wednesday.

The secretive regime was hit with sanctions from the U.N. Security Council in March over its nuclear and missile tests. That same month, President Obama imposed sanctions on North Korea after it conducted a rocket launch that Washington and allies said incorporated banned ballistic missile technology, Reuters reports.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.