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North slams 5 countries for UN statement

‘Reckless’ criticism of launch could lead to ‘momentous reaction’

Mar 09,2020
North Korea’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday slammed the United Nations Security Council for its condemnation of Pyongyang’s weapons test last week, which it said was tantamount to denying the North’s “right to self-defense.”

An English-language statement, carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), said Britain, France, Germany, Belgium and Estonia’s statement condemning the test contained “an absurd argument” that rebuked Pyongyang on a double standard.

“The routine drills of our army are just the same as those conducted by any country of the world,” the statement read. “However, only our military drills are becoming the subject of weird countries to be denounced every time. In the end, it is nothing more than a logic that we should give up our right to self-defence.”

Pyongyang on March 2 launched two projectiles as a part of what it claimed was a “firepower strike drill.” South Korea’s military said the launches appeared to involve short-range ballistic missiles, and its presidential office produced a statement that day urging the North to cease all actions raising tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

After a closed-door UN Security Council meeting on Thursday, five European countries issued a joint statement condemning the North’s launches as a provocative action that stood in violation of UN resolutions on the country.

Urging the North to return to denuclearization talks with the United States and take concrete measures towards scrapping its nuclear program, the five countries said continued provocations like the most recent weapons test undermined the prospects of successful negotiations.

“It is vital that the Security Council ensures full implementation of its resolutions and that sanctions remain in place,” the statement read. “We call on the international community to comply with the obligation to strictly enforce these sanctions.”

In an answer to Seoul’s response, Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, issued a vitriolic statement Tuesday condemning the South for making “incoherent” assertions criticizing Pyongyang’s drill while being “fond of joint military exercises” of its own with the United States.

The North’s Foreign Ministry statement on Saturday ran along similar lines, stressing its drills were meant to “hold in check the military forces of the U.S. and south Korea” and were defensive in nature.

“If [the five European countries] blindly call our self-defence acts into question as now, it is, in the long run, tantamount to asking us to abandon the defence of our own state,” the ministry said. “The illogical thinking and sophism of these countries are just gradually bearing a close resemblance to the U.S. which is hostile to us.”

More notably, the statement went on to warn that such “reckless behavior of these countries instigated by the U.S.” could trigger “yet another momentous reaction” on North Korea’s part - suggesting Pyongyang could undertake even further provocations.

Washington was not part of the Europeans countries’ statement condemning North Korea’s test, and has been muted in its general response.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly given Pyongyang the benefit of the doubt in regard to numerous weapons tests last year, said he had “no reaction” to the latest test. “Short-term missiles?,” he rhetorically asked, apparently suggesting that short-range missile tests do not violate a verbal promise he received from Kim saying the regime would not test long-range missiles.

Nuclear talks between the two countries floundered after Trump walked out of his second summit with Kim in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February 2019.

Though U.S. administration officials continue to express an openness to resuming negotiations with Pyongyang, CNN reported last month that Trump told top foreign policy advisors he does not want to meet Kim again before the U.S. presidential election in November.

BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [shim.kyuseok@joongang.co.kr]


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