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N. Korea slams UN chief’s ‘unfair’ missile condemnation

By AFP - Feb 22,2023 - Last updated at Feb 22,2023

Members of the UN Security Council listen as Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific Khaled Mohamed Khiari speaks during a meeting on Non-proliferation and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at the United Nations headquarters on Monday in New York City (AFP photo)

SEOUL — North Korea rejected on Wednesday condemnation by the United Nations chief of its recent ballistic missile launches, saying it was “unfair and unbalanced” and ignored Pyongyang’s right to self-defence.

The nuclear-armed North has fired three banned missiles in the past five days, including an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test Pyongyang said showed its capacity for a “fatal nuclear counterattack on the hostile forces”.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres responded to Saturday’s ICBM launch with a statement calling for Pyongyang to “immediately desist from taking any further provocative actions”.

North Korea’s vice foreign minister expressed “strong discontent and protest against the extremely unfair and imbalanced attitude” of Guterres, according to a statement carried by KCNA state media.

Kim Son-gyong said Guterres’ assessment ignored “dangerous” joint military drills by Washington and Seoul and that he should “adopt a fair and balanced attitude”.

Kim described North Korea’s missile launches as a justified “countermeasure” to the recent US deployment of strategic bombers to the Korean Peninsula.

Kim Yo-jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, had already said Pyongyang was closely monitoring moves by Washington and Seoul to deploy more US strategic assets to the region.

“The frequency of using the Pacific as our firing range depends upon the US forces’ action character,” she said in a statement on KCNA on Monday.

On Wednesday, Seoul and Tokyo said they held a joint exercise with the US in the Sea of Japan.

The exercises were held with an emphasis on “sharing ballistic missile target information and mastering detection, tracking, and interception procedures”, Seoul’s defence ministry said in a statement.

South Korea’s Aegis destroyer ROKS Sejong the Great, Washington’s Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Barry and Tokyo’s Atago-class Aegis destroyer were deployed for the drills, it added.

Relations between the two Koreas are at one of their lowest points in decades. North Korea declared itself last year an “irreversible” nuclear power and Kim Jong-un called for an “exponential” increase in weapons production, including tactical nuclear weapons.

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