North Korea and the United States clashed at a U.N. forum on Tuesday over their military intentions towards one another, with Pyongyang’s envoy declaring it would “never” put its nuclear deterrent on the negotiating table.
Japan, well within reach of North Korea’s missiles, said the world must maintain pressure on the reclusive country to rein in its nuclear and missile programs and now was not the time for a resumption of multi-party talks.
North Korea has pursued its weapons programs in defiance of U.N. Security Council sanctions and ignored all calls, including from major ally China, to stop, prompting a bellicose exchange of rhetoric between the North and the United States.
North Korea justifies its weapons programs, including its recent threat to fire missiles towards the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, by pointing to perceived U.S. hostility, such as military exercises with South Korea this week.
U.S. disarmament ambassador Robert Wood told a U.N.-sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva U.S. President Donald Trump’s top priority was to protect the United States and its allies against the “growing threat” from North Korea and America was ready to use “the full range of capabilities” at its disposal.
The “path to dialogue still remained an option” for Pyongyang and it had the choice between poverty and belligerence on the one hand and prosperity and acceptance.
North Korea’s envoy told the same forum the North’s nuclear deterrent would never be up for negotiation, echoing Pyongyang’s regular denunciation of U.S. “aggression”.
“The measures taken by the DPRK to strengthen its nuclear deterrence and develop inter-continental rockets is justifiable and a legitimate option for self-defense in the face of such apparent and real threats,” diplomat Ju Yong Chol told the forum, referring to “constant nuclear threats” by the United States.