(NBC News) -- Hours after a North Korean general threatened to launch long-range, nuclear-armed missiles at Washington
Thursday the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved new, tougher sanctions against the regime.
"These sanctions will bite and will bite hard," United States Ambassador Susan Rice promised.
The sanctions are designed to punish the reclusive nation for its recent ballistic missile and nuclear tests.
"The strength, breadth and severity of these sanctions will raise the cost to North Korea of its illicit nuclear program," Rice explained.
A program Pyongyang has refused to end despite repeated diplomatic efforts and multiple Security Council resolutions.
Thursday's action by the United Nations is stronger, making it harder for North Korea to finance and obtain nuclear materials, and comes with the support of North Korea's strongest ally, China.
Beijing may be changing its support of North Korea, saying they backed today's sanctions in hopes of getting Pyongyang back to the diplomatic table.
"I think there are signs that China is beginning to step up," said US Special Envoy to North Korea Glyn Davies. "They say they will enforce these sanctions. We take them at their word."
Strong words Washington hopes will resonate with North Korean leaders.
"North Korea will achieve nothing by continued threats and provocations," Rice warned. "These will only further only isolate the country and its people and undermined efforts for peace and stability in Northeast Asia."