Fri, Dec 06, 2019 - Page 5 News List

N Korea warns UN against provocation

BLAMING SANCTIONS:North Korean Ambassador to the UN Kim Song said that any meeting on human rights would undermine ties on the Korean Peninsula

Reuters, UNITED NATIONS

Visitors to Imjingak Park near the demilitarized zone in Paju, South Korea, look at ribbons of peace yesterday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

North Korea on Wednesday told the UN Security Council that it would consider any discussion of the country’s human rights situation a “serious provocation” and that Pyongyang would “respond strongly.”

North Korean Ambassador to the UN Kim Song delivered the warning in a letter.

Diplomats said that several members of the 15-member council planned to request a meeting this month on human rights abuses in North Korea.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump have met three times since June last year in a bid to broker a deal that Washington hopes would lead to the North dismantling its nuclear and missile programs, but no progress had been made and Pyongyang has carried out a series of short-range ballistic missile tests.

The US is president of the Security Council this month.

Kim Song wrote that any meeting on human rights would be an “act of conniving at and siding with the US’ hostile policy, which will lead to undermining rather than helping reduction of tensions on the Korean Peninsula and resolution of the nuclear issue.”

A minimum of nine council members need to support a request for the meeting to defeat any attempt to block it. From 2014 to 2017, China failed to stop the annual discussion.

Last year, the US dropped a push for the council to meet on human rights because it did not have enough support, diplomats said, adding that could have tried again in January when five new members rotated onto the council, but did not.

North Korea blames sanctions for a dire humanitarian situation.

Pyongyang has demanded that sanctions be removed. The country has been under UN sanctions since 2006 over its ballistic missiles and nuclear programs.

“If the Security Council would push through the meeting on ‘human rights issue’ of the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] ... the situation on the Korean Peninsula would take a turn for the worse again,” the letter said.

North Korea has given Washington until the end of the year to show more flexibility in talks, raising concerns among some diplomats that the country might next year resume nuclear and long-range missile testing that has been suspended since 2017.

Trump has repeatedly held up this suspension of tests as a major achievement of his engagement with North Korea.

A 2014 UN report on North Korean human rights concluded that North Korean security chiefs — and possibly leader Kim Jong-un himself — should face justice for overseeing a state-controlled system of Nazi-style atrocities.

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