UNITED NATIONS — North Korea’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) was an exercise of its right to self-defense “to deter dangerous military movements by hostile forces and safeguard the security of our state,” the country’s United Nations envoy told the Security Council on Thursday, July 13, during a rare appearance.
The 15-member Security Council met after North Korea said it tested its latest Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile on Wednesday, adding that the weapon is the core of its nuclear strike force.
“We categorically reject and condemn the convening of the Security Council briefing by the United States and its supporters,” North Korea’s ambassador to the UN, Kim Song, told the council.
READ: North Korea says longest test launch was latest Hwasong-18 ICBM
North Korea last spoke at a council meeting on its nuclear and ballistic missile programs in December 2017, diplomats said.
North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), has been under UN sanctions over its nuclear and missile programs since 2006. This includes a ban on the development of ballistic missiles.
For the past several years, the council has been divided on how to deal with Pyongyang. Russia and China, veto powers along with the United States, Britain and France, have said more sanctions will not help and want such measures eased.
READ: North Korea fires two short-range ballistic missiles
China and Russia blame joint US-South Korean military exercises for provoking Pyongyang, while Washington accuses Beijing and Moscow of emboldening North Korea by shielding it from further sanctions.
“Russia and China have prevented this council from speaking with one voice. And with these repeated launches, Pyongyang is showing that it feels emboldened,” US Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Jeffrey DeLaurentis told the council.
China criticizes NATO
DeLaurentis said the United States was committed to diplomacy and “in public and in private and at high levels we have repeatedly urged the DPRK to engage in dialogue.” He said Washington had made it clear there were no preconditions for engagement and that it would “discuss any issue of interest to Pyongyang.”
“The DPRK has not responded to our offers,” he said.
Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun told the council that Beijing is committed to denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and resolving the issue through dialogue.
READ: North Korea says it tested a new solid-fueled ICBM
He described the situation as “tense” and said it was becoming “increasingly confrontational”. China has “taken note” of North Korea’s latest missile launch, Zhang said.
“The Cold War is long over, but the specter of the Cold War mentality lingers. It has not only made the peninsula problem intractable, but has also intensified antagonism and conflict around the world,” he said.
He went on to criticize a statement from NATO leaders this week, telling the council that it was as “protracted as harping on the same old tunes full of Cold War mentality and ideological bias.” Zhang said NATO should do “some soul searching.”
READ: North Korea admits failed satellite launch and promises second attempt
NATO leaders in the statement said China challenged NATO’s interests, security and values with its “ambitions and coercive policies.”
“China does not cause trouble or fear trouble,” Zhang said. “We stand ready to respond firmly and forcefully to any acts that violate China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, undermine China’s security and development interests, and undermine peace and stability in China’s neighborhood.”
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