U.S. calls for U.N. Security Council president’s statement on North Korea missiles

Nov 21 (Reuters) – The United States on Monday called on North Korea to hold North Korea accountable for its missile tests after Pyongyang launched an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland last week, following a statement by the president of the United Nations Security Council.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said it was very important for the 15-member Security Council to respond unanimously, repeating the U.S. accusation that China and Russia are “encouraging” Pyongyang by blocking the council’s activities.

“The flagrant obstructionism of these two members endangers the Northeast Asian region and the entire world,” he said at a Council meeting called by Washington to discuss Friday’s test.

“We offer the Council another opportunity to hold the DPRK accountable for its dangerous rhetoric and destabilizing actions,” he said, using North Korea’s shortened official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“The United States proposes a presidential statement to that effect.”

On Tuesday, Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said the UN Security Council was showing “double standards” regarding military action, calling it a “serious political provocation.”

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“The UN Security Council has turned a blind eye to the highly dangerous military exercises by the US and South Korea and their greedy arms buildup towards the DPRK and questioned the DPRK’s exercise of its inviolable right to self-defense,” Kim said in a statement. This was reported by the official KCNA news agency.

In a joint statement, Kim, a senior official of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, criticized the US envoy’s remarks and his efforts to strike a united voice, comparing Washington to a “frightened barking dog”.

“No matter how hard the US tries to disarm the DPRK, it must remember that it can never deprive the DPRK of its right to self-defense,” Kim said.

“The more hellishly he follows through on actions against the DPRK, the more dire the security crisis will be.”

China is concerned about the “escalating spiral of tension” on the Korean peninsula, its UN ambassador Zhang Jun said, but added that the Council should help ease tensions and not always blame or pressure Pyongyang.

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Washington should take the initiative and make realistic proposals to address North Korea’s “legitimate concerns,” he said.

“All parties should be calm and patient, speak with caution, and refrain from actions that could escalate tensions and lead to miscalculations,” Zhang said.

Anna Evstigneeva, Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, accused Washington of trying to unilaterally disarm North Korea through sanctions and force, blaming the missile tests on military exercises by the US and its allies.

A spokesman for the US mission to the United Nations said a draft of the president’s statement would soon be submitted to the Security Council, and negotiations would follow.

After the meeting, Thomas-Greenfield read a joint statement from 14 countries, including eight members of the Security Council, condemning the North’s latest launch, as well as state media reports that the missile could be used for a pre-emptive nuclear strike.

The missile landed 120 miles (200 km) off Japan’s coast, and the test was “a serious escalation that poses an undeniable threat to international peace and security.”

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The council should act to limit the advancement of North Korea’s weapons program, he added.

North Korea launched an unprecedented ballistic missile this year and Washington has warned for months that Pyongyang could test its first nuclear weapon since 2017 at any time.

A senior US official said this month that Washington believes it has leverage to persuade China and Russia to stop North Korea from continuing nuclear tests, and US President Joe Biden told his Chinese counterpart last week that Beijing had a duty to act.

North Korea’s foreign minister on Monday accused UN Secretary-General António Guterres of siding with Washington and saying it was Pyongyang’s right to develop weapons for self-defense.

Reports by David Brunnstrom, Daphne Psaledakis, and Michael Martina; Additional reporting by Hyunhee Shin in Seoul; Edited by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Berkrot

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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