A North Korean minister lashed out at the US on Monday, warning that its “hostile” policy has left the Korean Peninsula a spark away from a nuclear war.
Addressing the final session of the UN General Assembly’s annual high-level meeting, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Pak Kil-yon said the Koreas have become “the world’s most dangerous hotspot” and pledged to use the North’s “mighty” military deterrent against any “reckless provocations.”
“The only way to prevent war and ensure lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula is to put an end to the US hostile policy towards the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea],” he said.
The US State Department had no comment on the speech.
Pak addressed the 193-member world body for the first time since the death in December last year of North Korea’s longtime leader Kim Jong-il and the transfer of power to his son Kim Jong-un. His speech gave some clues about the foreign policy approach of the new leader, whom Pak addressed as “our dear respected marshal.”
Pak said Kim Jong-un is leading efforts to advance his father’s economic development program with his own “insight into the world,” and is implementing an “independent foreign policy” and opening a new chapter in developing relations with friendly countries “not bound by the past.”
Much of his speech focused on North Korea’s continuing state of war with the US more than 60 years after the 1950-1953 Korean War ended with an armistice, but no peace treaty. Pak said Pyongyang’s view that from the day the country was founded Washington’s intention has been “to destroy the ideas and system chosen by our people and to occupy the whole of the Korean Peninsula and to use it as a stepping-stone for realizing its strategy of dominating the whole of Asia.”
“Today, due to the continued US hostile policy towards the DPRK,” Pak said, “the vicious cycle of confrontation and aggravation of tension is an ongoing phenomenon on the Korean Peninsula, which has become the world’s most dangerous hotspot where a spark of fire could set off a thermonuclear war.”
Pak said the US has finalized scenarios for a new Korean War and “is waiting for a chance to implement them” and impose military rule after an invasion.
The latest military drill in August involving more than 80,000 troops from the US, South Korea and seven countries that fought with them in the Korean War “drove the situation on the Korean Peninsula to the brink of war,” Pak said.
In an apparent reference to North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and massive military, Pak said his nation’s “patience and self-defensive war deterrent,” have prevented US military provocations “from turning into an all-out war on the Korean Peninsula.”
“However, the DPRK’s patience does not mean it is unlimited,” he said.
While the government aims to build “a prosperous and powerful state,” Pak said, the North was right to build a strong military and “war deterrent” as a “mighty weapon” to respond immediately to provocations and confront any aggression “with a just war of reunifying the country.”
Pak lamented that the atmosphere of reconciliation and agreements spawned by historic North-South summit meetings in 2000 and 2007 were negated when South Korean President Lee Myung-bak took office in 2008.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry said yesterday that the North’s provocations have made it difficult for relations to improve, denying Pak’s claim that Seoul is to blame for the deterioration in ties.