The UN Security Council unanimously approved tough new sanctions against North Korea on Friday in response to its latest launch of a ballistic missile that Pyongyang says can reach anywhere on the USA mainland.
It also targets the country's access to foreign currency.
The UN resolution seeks to ban almost 90 per cent of refined petroleum exports to North Korea by capping them at 500,000 barrels a year and, in a last-minute change, demands the repatriation of North Koreans working overseas within 24 months, instead of 12 months as first proposed.
"It sends the unambiguous message to Pyongyang that further defiance will invite further punishment and isolation", said U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley after the 15-0 vote.
"And should the North Korean regime conduct another nuclear or ballistic missile test, this resolution commits the Security Council to take even further action".
South Korea's Ministry of Unification, which promotes reunification of the two Koreas divided since 1945, said North Korea was also likely to attempt next year to restore diplomatic relations with Seoul. The resolution issued last week was a rebuke to North Korea that prompted Pyongyang to declare that it would further upgrade its nuclear force.
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"In searching for the recognition of its status as a de facto nuclear-possessing state, (the North) would explore the possibility of negotiations with the U.S". "North Korea is forecast to maximize efforts to endure (the impact of sanctions) by tightening social control and mobilizing its people for building the economy", the ministry said, according to Yonhap.
"The adoption of the resolution was made possible exclusively thanks to the fact that our concerns were reflected and accounted for", said Russian deputy envoy Vladimir Safronkov, who stressed that key activities such as diplomacy in North Korea and the operations of the country's airline are exempted from the sanctions.
US diplomats have made clear they are seeking a diplomatic solution but proposed the new, tougher sanctions resolution to ratchet up pressure on North Korea's leader.
South Korea, for its part, offered encouragement for the path of diplomacy and urged the North to join the upcoming Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
North Korea has said it is a "pipe dream" for the United States to think it will give up its nuclear weapons.
The North has defended its missile and nuclear weapons programmes as measures for self-defense against "hostile" United States policies towards Pyongyang.