North Korea shows no sign of budging over nuclear ambitions, calls possession of nukes 'inevitable' self-defensive measure

United Nations: North Korea's friends and enemies have joined forces in opposing its determination to be recognised as a nuclear weapons state and calling on leader Kim Jong-un to negotiate the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, but the North gave no sign of budging on its nuclear ambitions.

In a very rare appearance by a North Korean at the UN Security Council, Ambassador Ja Song Nam told a ministerial meeting that the country's possession of nuclear weapons was "an inevitable self-defensive measure" to defend the country against "the US nuclear threat and blackmail."

Ja never mentioned the possibility of talks. Instead, he called the council meeting "a desperate measure plotted by the US being terrified by the incredible might of our republic that has successfully achieved the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force."

He pointed to the 29 November launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, which experts say could reach the US mainland.

Representational image of UN Security Council. AFP

File image of UN Security Council. AFP

South Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun told the council that North Korea is "in the final stages of nuclear weaponisation" and warned that if it can put a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile "it will fundamentally alter the security landscape in the region and beyond."

He urged the international community to grasp the urgency of the threat this poses and find ways to halt the North's nuclear programme, including by maximising pressure and uniting in answering "absolutely no" to North Korean attempts to be recognised as a nuclear-weapons state.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared: "We will never accept a nuclear North Korea."

Earlier this week, Tillerson stunned many by proposing talks with North Korea without preconditions. But he stepped back on Friday, after the White House rebutted the proposal, telling the council "North Korea must earn its way back to the table."

The US and close allies South Korea and Japan called for increased pressure on the North to get Kim's government to negotiate the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea's Ja said his country has been the target of 11 UN sanctions resolutions. The United States, the European Union, South Korea, Japan and other countries have imposed additional measures. But all these bans haven't stopped Kim's nuclear and missile tests, or led to negotiations.

Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono urged the international community to maximise pressure on North Korea "by all means available," saying there is no other way to get Pyongyang to curb its escalating nuclear and missile programmes.

He announced that Japan has just ordered the assets of 19 North Korean entities to be frozen.

Kono said last week's visit to Pyongyang by UN political chief Jeffrey Feltman "only reconfirmed the dire reality" that North Korea "is nowhere near ready" to abandon its nuclear and missile programmes, "nor is it interested in returning to a meaningful dialogue."

Feltman said after briefing the council Tuesday that North Korea's foreign minister and others told him "that it was important to prevent war" and how we do that was the topic of more than 15 hours of discussions. Council diplomats said Feltman told them the North Koreans kept repeating that the time was not right for talks.

In his briefing to Friday's meeting, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres offered his "good offices" to avoid the dispute over the "alarming and accelerated pace" of North Korea's nuclear and missile program accidentally escalation into conflict.

The UN chief warned that "the risk is being multiplied by misplaced over-confidence, dangerous narratives and rhetoric, and the lack of communication channels." He urged an immediate re-establishment and strengthening of government and military communications.

Published Date: Dec 16, 2017 17:12 PM | Updated Date: Dec 16, 2017 17:12 PM

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