GENEVA (REUTERS) - South Korea's foreign minister called on the United Nations Security Council to expand sanctions on North Korea on Wednesday (March 2) to punish his neighbour for what he called an escalating and increasingly threatening nuclear programme.
Yun Byung Se called North Korea a "serial offender" and denounced Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test and latest long-range missile launch, carried out in January and February.
North Korea's Ambassador Se Pyong So dismissed the speech, saying his country's nuclear programme was designed to ensure peace on the Korean peninsula and warned that more sanctions would bring a "tougher reaction".
Both men addressed UN-backed Conference on Disarmament in Geneva hours before major powers were scheduled to vote at the UN Security Council across the Atlantic on a resolution to expand sanctions on North Korea.
After nearly two months of bilateral negotiations, China last month agreed to support new measures in the Security Council to try and persuade its ally North Korea to abandon its atomic weapons programme.
Pyongyang has been under UN sanctions since 2006 because of its nuclear tests and multiple rocket launches. "It's no wonder that the Security Council will very soon put up a landmark resolution with the strongest ever non-military sanction measures in seven decades of UN history," South Korea's Yun told the Geneva forum.
The credibility of the nuclear non-proliferation regime needed to be protected, he added. "Even at this moment, Pyongyang is accelerating its nuclear weapons and missile capabilities from nuclear bombs and hydrogen bombs to ICBMs and SLBMs," he said referring to intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
"We have heard Pyongyang officially state its intention not only to further develop its nuclear weapons and missiles but also to use them."
Japan's envoy at the conference, Masakazu Hamachi, said North Korea's actions had undermined the security of Northeast Asia and the rest of the world.
North Korea's envoy retorted that the nuclear programme was"not directed to harm the fellow countryman but to protect peace on the Korean Peninsula and security in the region from the US vicious nuclear war scenario." "The more sanctions will bring about tougher reaction," So said.