North Korea slams UN chief over nuclear criticism

A man walks past a television screen showing a news broadcast with file footage of a North Korean missile test, at a railway station in Seoul on September 29, 2022. - North Korea fired two ballistic missiles on September 29, just hours after US Vice President Kamala Harris left South Korea, where she had toured the heavily-fortified Demilitarized Zone which divides the peninsula. (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP)

North Korea slammed United Nations chief Antonio Guterres on Saturday over his recent description of Pyongyang’s nuclear programmes as a “clear and present danger”.

Military tensions on the Korean peninsula rose sharply last year as the North conducted sanctions-busting weapons tests nearly every month, including firing its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un also recently called for an “exponential” increase in Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal and new ICBMs to counter what it termed US and South Korean hostility.
Guterres told the UN Security Council on Thursday the onus was on Pyongyang to resume talks, which collapsed in 2019 when nuclear negotiations between Kim and then-US president Donald Trump broke down in Hanoi.

“The unlawful nuclear weapons programme being pursued by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a clear and present danger, driving risks and geopolitical tensions to new heights,” Guterres told a Security Council meeting on the rule of law that was chaired by Japanese foreign minister Yoshimasa Hayashi.

Pyongyang released a statement late on Saturday in which it accused Guterres of having “typical double-standards” and committing the “dangerous act of destroying the trust of the world community in the UN”.

The statement, attributed to Jo Chol Su, a senior official in Pyongyang’s foreign ministry, also said Guterres was ignoring a “reckless arms buildup” by the United States that was “constantly bringing all sorts of nuclear strike means to the Korean peninsula and the region”.

Jo also accused Japan of having “no moral and legal qualification” to be part of the UN Security Council because of its wartime and colonial past.

Pyongyang’s statement, carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, reiterated that the North will never give up its nuclear weapons.

It came after US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida touted Tokyo’s beefed-up military posture during White House talks Friday.

Japan shook up its defence strategy in December with a pledge to increase spending to two percent of GDP by 2027, adding more muscular capabilities in the face of a rising China and an unpredictable North Korea.

Kim declared North Korea an “irreversible” nuclear state in September last year.

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