North Korea warns 'catastrophic consequences' over UN rights ruling

SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea's top military body Sunday warned of "catastrophic consequences" for supporters of the latest United Nations censure on its human rights record, as state media reported leader Kim Jong Un presided over fresh military drills.

A resolution asking the UN Security Council to refer North Korea's leadership to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for possible charges of "crimes against humanity" passed by a resounding vote of 111 to 19 with 55 abstentions in a General Assembly human rights committee last week.

Introduced by Japan and the European Union and co-sponsored by some 60 nations, the resolution drew heavily on the work of a UN inquiry which concluded in February that the North was committing human rights abuses "without parallel in the contemporary world".

The North since then has repeatedly slammed the bill as a political "fraud" and warned that it was being pushed into conducting a fresh nuclear test.

The National Defence Commission (NDC), chaired by Kim, said Sunday the bill amounted to a "war declaration" taking issue with the North's leader, Kim Jong Un.

The resolution makes no mention of Kim but notes the UN inquiry finding that the "highest level of the state" holds responsibility for the rights abuses.

The dignity of its leader "cannot be bartered for anything", NDC said in a statement, adding Japan as well as South Korea and the US - co-sponsors of the UN bill - were Pyongyang's "primary target".

"The US and its followers will be wholly accountable for the unimaginable and catastrophic consequences to be entailed by the frantic 'human rights' racket against the (North)," it said.

As Pyongyang ramped the up angry threats, Kim guided a large military drill involving maritime transport and amphibious landing, the state-run KCNA said.

The NDC also said that Seoul's leader Park Geun Hye would not be safe "if a nuclear war breaks out" on the Korean peninsula, and its attacks could make Japan "disappear from the world map for good".

The isolated and nuclear-armed state has staged three atomic tests - most recently in 2013, which was its most powerful test to date.

This week, the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said on its closely followed 38 North website that new satellite imagery suggested Pyongyang may be firing up a facility for processing weapons-grade plutonium - a major source for a nuclear test.

South Korea said last week its military was on stand-by, and the US said Thursday that the renewed threat of a nuclear test in the North was a "great concern".

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