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8 May, 2014 02:13

N. Korea's ‘self-defense’ nuclear, missile tests will become annual – deputy envoy to UN

N. Korea's ‘self-defense’ nuclear, missile tests will become annual – deputy envoy to UN

North Korea has threatened to conduct its nuclear and missile tests annually as a measure of self-defense, as South Korea urged vigilance against its neighbor's ambitions in the United Nations Security Council.

“The missile launches and nuclear tests in the interest of self-defense will become annual,” Ri Tong-il, the North Korean deputy ambassador to the United Nations told the UN Security Council, before his microphone was cut off. His 15 minute speech was suddenly interrupted as the chairman of the body kept reminding the N. Korean representative of a 4 minute time limit for non-permanent members of the UNSC.

Ri Tong-il accused the United States of "increasing nuclear blackmail" and reiterated that his country has targeted the United States with its nuclear weapons.

The debate in the council on nuclear non-proliferation on the 10th anniversary of resolution 1540 became heated when the South Korean Foreign Affairs Minister Yun Byung-se took the floor. He urged the UNSC members to threaten Pyongyang with “the most serious consequences” if it continues its nuclear program.

“We must clearly warn North Korea that if it challenges the international community with another nuclear test it will be met with the most serious consequences,” the minister said.

The communist North already carried out three nuclear tests, in October 2006, May 2009, and February 2013, despite the weight of devastating international sanctions.

According a recent report from former Pentagon strategic analyst Mark Schneider, North Korea has developed advanced nuclear weapons and ballistic missile forces. The study called “The North Korean Nuclear Threat to the United States”, published in Comparative Strategy, says that Pyongyang could potentially strike Hawaii, Alaska and parts of the West Coast.

The Defense Intelligence Agency in a separate assessment in 2013 claimed that the “North [Korean government] currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles,” according to Schneider’s 16-page report.

South Korea's Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se (Reuters/Denis Balibouse)

Speaking in front of the international body Yun called his northern neighbor “the weakest link” in global nuclear security and safety, as he urged the international community to increase pressure on Pyongyang.

“If we fail to effectively act upon such a clear and present threat to international peace and security, it would critically weaken the credibility of the Security Council as well as the integrity of the UN charter.”

Meanwhile in Washington following a trilateral meeting, the US, Japan and South Korea “reaffirmed the UN Security Council’s unanimous condemnation of the DPRK’s recent ballistic missile launches as a violation of UN Security Council resolutions.”

On a separate issue during the Wednesday meeting, Saudi Arabia and Iran both criticised Israel's refusal to participate in a conference on establishing a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

Israel's weapons of mass destruction – possession of which it has never publicly acknowledged – threaten all neighboring states, said Iran's Gholamhossein Dehghani. Meanwhile Saudi Arabia's Abdallah Al-Moualimi said nuclear weapons in Israel’s hands are “a major obstacle” to Mideast security.

Following the debate, council members approved a declaration recalling the objectives of resolution 1540, passed back in 2004. The resolution was aimed at preventing proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, their means of delivery, and related materials. Of 193 members of the United Nations, 172 have submitted their national action plans.