North Korea expresses 'strong regret' over UN rebuke of ICBM launch: KCNA

The North fired an intercontinental ballistic missile on Friday in one of its most powerful tests yet. PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL - North Korea’s foreign minister on Sunday expressed “strong regret” over UN chief Antonio Guterres’ condemnation of the country’s intercontinental ballistic missile launch, a statement in state-run outlet KCNA said.

The North fired an intercontinental ballistic missile on Friday in one of its most powerful tests yet, prompting Mr Guterres to urge Pyongyang to halt any further “provocative actions”.

Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui responded by expressing “my strong regret over the fact that the UN secretary-general has taken a very deplorable attitude”.

The UN chief’s statement, Ms Choe said, was “oblivious of the purpose and principles of the UN Charter and its proper mission which is to maintain impartiality, objectivity and equity in all matters”. She added that the episode shows that Mr Guterres “is a puppet of the US”.

Nuclear-armed North Korea has conducted a record-breaking blitz of launches in recent weeks, which Pyongyang – and Moscow – have repeatedly blamed on Washington’s moves to boost the protection it offers to allies Seoul and Tokyo.

Since Mr Kim Jong Un declared North Korea an “irreversible” nuclear state in September, the United States has ramped up regional security cooperation.

“We recently warned the UN secretary-general to consider the issue of the Korean peninsula on the basis of impartiality and objectivity,” Ms Choe said.

She added that the North had made clear that it would have to resort to “self-defence under the worrying security environment in the Korean peninsula and the region caused by the US and its vassal forces’ dangerous military cooperation”.

“Nevertheless,” Ms Choe said, “the UN secretary-general shifted the blame for the case onto the DPRK rather than the US”.

Mr Kim supervised Friday’s launch, which KCNA said was the Hwasong-17 – dubbed the “monster missile” by analysts. KCNA referred to the missile as its latest variant and “the strongest strategic weapon in the world”.

Mr Kim witnessed the latest launch in the company of his daughter.

The missile flew 1,000km at an altitude of 6,100km, South Korea’s military said, only slightly less than the ICBM Pyongyang fired on March 24, which appeared to be the North’s most powerful such test yet. Later on Friday, Tokyo and Washington held joint military drills in the airspace over the Sea of Japan.

The UN Security Council was on Monday due to discuss North Korea in a meeting.

A day earlier, foreign ministers from the G-7 nations had said repeated launching of missiles by North Korea “further destabilises the region” and called on the UN Security Council to take further “significant” action to halt the tests.

The G-7 statement called for “a united and robust response by the international community, including the need for further significant measures to be taken by the UN Security Council”.

The G-7 comprises Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the United States. A representative of the European Union joined in on the statement.

So far this month, North Korea is believed to have fired 30 short-, medium- and long-range missiles, including Friday’s launch which landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone west of Hokkaido.

A series of test launches in October included a likely ICBM that flew over and past Japan, prompting warning sirens to sound in northern Japan.

North Korea has launched more missiles in 2022 than in any previous year.

The UN Security Council has passed nearly a dozen resolutions imposing sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear and missile activity since 2006.

North Korea tested six nuclear bombs between 2006 and 2017, and has vowed to never cease its nuclear programme.

The G-7 statement reiterated demands that North Korea’s nuclear programme must be verifiably dismantled and said the reclusive nation “will never have the status of a nuclear-weapon state”. AFP

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