Thu, Sep 22, 2016 - Page 6 News List

Seoul questions North’s UN status

‘EXISTENTIAL THREAT’:Yun said Pyongyang deploying nuclear-tipped missiles would be a threat not only to the South, but to the whole international community as well


North Korea’s repeated flouting of UN Security Council resolutions by conducting nuclear and missile tests calls into question its suitability for membership of the world body, South Korea’s top diplomat has told reporters.

South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Yun Byung-se stopped short of calling for Pyongyang’s expulsion from the UN, but said its authoritarian government was violating the terms under which both Koreas had been admitted 25 years ago.

He said the North had “broken records” in its violation of global norms: It is the only nation to have conducted nuclear tests in the 21st century and is already subject to five Security Council resolutions over its weapons testing.

“I think all members of the UN have to ask themselves whether North Korea is really qualified as a member of the UN,” Yun said in an interview late on Tuesday on the sidelines of the annual gathering of world leaders at UN headquarters in New York.

Calling North Korea a “serial offender,” he said the Security Council, the UN’s top decisionmaking body, needs to close loopholes in existing sanctions and impose tough new measures in response to the North’s fifth and most recent atomic test.

He said that the “Hiroshima-sized explosion” on Sept. 9 made it clear that Pyongyang poses an “existential threat” to its US-allied southern neighbor and a growing menace to the world.

“This latest test is a very sobering reminder [that] the danger and the threat from North Korea is now reaching a very, very dangerous stage. For many years we have been talking about the development of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missiles, and now we may be reaching a stage where we have to worry about the deployment of nuclear-tipped missiles,” Yun said.

“If that day comes, that’s not just a threat to South Koreans or to Japanese, it’s a threat to the United States and almost all members of the international community,” Yun said.

He described negotiations over a new Security Council resolution as a “last chance ... to check this fanatic behavior” of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

In a fresh sign of defiance, Kim oversaw a ground test of a new rocket engine and ordered a satellite launch preparation, North Korean state media said on Tuesday, an indication the country might soon conduct a prohibited long-range rocket launch — possibly to coincide with the 71st anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers’ Party, which falls on Oct. 10.

The UN and others view the North’s space launch development project as a cover for tests of missile technology, as ballistic missiles and rockets in satellite launches share similar bodies, engines and other technology. The North has conducted more than 20 launches of various types of missile this year.

Yun also voiced concern that the North was accelerating its accumulation of fissile material with a view to mass producing nuclear bombs.

North Korea has said it needs nuclear weapons and missiles to cope with US military threats. About 28,500 US troops are stationed in South Korea.

Yun dismissed repeated North Korean calls for the US and South Korea to scrap annual military exercises, which it describes as a preparation for invasion.

Some experts say that could provide a diplomatic opening.

Aid-for-disarmament negotiations have been stalled since 2008, and Washington said they can restart only if the North recommits to denuclearization.

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