North Korea: ‘nuclear war may break out at any moment’ says UN envoy

Deputy ambassador Kim In-ryong tells general assembly his nation has been subjected to ‘extreme and direct nuclear threat’ from US

North Korea deputy United Nations ambassador Kim In-ryong says his country has been subjected to a ‘direct nuclear threat’ (Photo: the Guardian)
North Korea deputy United Nations ambassador Kim In-ryong says his country has been subjected to a ‘direct nuclear threat’ (Photo: the Guardian)

North Korea’s deputy UN ambassador has warned that the situation on the Korean peninsula “has reached the touch-and-go point and a nuclear war may break out any moment”.

Kim In-ryong told the UN general assembly’s disarmament committee that  Pyongang is the only country in the world that has been subjected to “such an extreme and direct nuclear threat” from the United States since the 1970s and that the country has the right to possess nuclear weapons in self-defence.

He pointed to large-scale military exercises every year using “nuclear assets” and said what is more dangerous is what he called a US plan to stage a “secret operation aimed at the removal of our supreme leadership”.

This year, according to Kim, North Korea has completed its “state nuclear force and thus became the full-fledged nuclear power which possesses the delivery means of various ranges, including the atomic bomb, H-bomb and intercontinental ballistic rockets”.

“The entire US mainland is within our firing range and if the US dares to invade our sacred territory even an inch it will not escape our severe punishment in any part of the globe,” he warned.

Kim’s speech follows threats between the North and the US, and the implementation of tough UN sanctions.
Russian president Vladimir Putin, said on Monday that his country was curtailing economic, scientific and other ties with North Korea in line with UN sanctions, and the European Union announced new sanctions on Pyongyang for developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, said on Sunday that diplomatic efforts aimed at resolving the North Korean crisis “will continue until the first bomb drops”.

His commitment to diplomacy came despite President Donald Trump’s tweets several weeks ago that his chief envoy was “wasting his time” trying to negotiate with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, whom he derisively referred to as “Little Rocket Man.” The president said that “only one thing will work” with North Korea, but refused to elaborate any further.

North Korea’s deputy UN ambassador called his country’s nuclear and missile arsenal “a precious strategic asset that cannot be reversed or bartered for anything”.

“Unless the hostile policy and the nuclear threat of the US is thoroughly eradicated, we will never put our nuclear weapons and ballistic rockets on the negotiating table under any circumstances,” Kim said.

He told the disarmament committee that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which North Korea calls itself, had hoped for a nuclear-free world.

Instead, Kim said, all nuclear states were accelerating the modernisation of their weapons and “reviving a nuclear arms race reminiscent of [the] cold war era”. He noted that the nuclear weapon states, including the United States, boycotted negotiations for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that was approved in July by 122 countries at the United Nations.

“The DPRK consistently supports the total elimination of nuclear weapons and the efforts for denuclearisation of the entire world,” he said. But as long as the United States rejected the treaty and “constantly threatens and blackmails the DPRK with nuclear weapons … the DPRK is not in position to accede to the treaty”.