US military drills and provocations risk destabilizing the Korean peninsula, North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations has warned, possibly plunging the region into a nuclear war. Pyongyang also vowed to continue its missile tests whenever it suits the country.
At a press conference in New York on Monday, Kim In Ryong, North Korean ambassador to the UN, accused the United States of disturbing global peace and stability, using “gangster-like logic” and being “hell-bent on dangerous saber rattling in South Korea.”
“The United States introducing in South Korea, on the Korean peninsula, the world’s biggest hotspot, huge nuclear strategic assets, seriously threatening the peace and security of the peninsula and pushing it to the brink of war,” Kim told reporters.
“It has created a dangerous situation in which nuclear war may break out at any moment on the peninsula and pose a serious threat to the world’s peace and security, to say nothing of those in northeast Asia.”
Recently, Pyongyang has been alarmed by the US deployment of the THAAD missile system in South Korea in early March. THAAD, or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, is a weapon designed to intercept short-and-medium-range ballistic missiles as they begin their descent to their target. Russia and China too have criticized the deployment, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov describing it as “disproportionate.” Kim also sharply criticized the US and South Korea for staging “aggressive war exercises” on the Korean peninsula, which he said were the root causes of tension in the region.
“The US has to come to its senses and come to the preferred option,” he noted, stressing that DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] forces are ready to face any threat to the country’s sovereignty.
“If the United States dares opt for a military action,” he added, “the DPRK is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the Americans.”
During the press conference, Kim also answered questions about North Korea’s recent missile tests, which have raised serious concerns among some of Pyongyang’s neighbors. On April 5, the South Korean military reported a North Korea missile test in Sinpho, South Hamgyong province, after which the Japanese and South Korean governments both held emergency meetings.
“Our missile test-fire is part of the normal process to go through for implementing the development of the self-defense capability and quality in order to defend our rights to self-existence and to safeguard peace and security in the Korean peninsula,” explained Kim, adding that North Korea’s missiles and nuclear arsenal are purely a response to American hostility, and the DPRK will conduct further tests if necessary.
“As far as another nuclear test is concerned… it is something that our headquarters decided,” Ryong added. “At the time and at the place where our headquarters deemed necessary it will take place.”
Earlier Monday, US Vice President Mike Pence visited the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea as part of his 10-day trip around the Asia-Pacific region.
There he warned Pyongyang not to test the resolve of President Donald Trump, pointing to the recent US shows of force in Afghanistan and Syria. Earlier this month the US fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at an air base in Syria, ostensibly in retaliation for an alleged chemical weapons attack by government forces, and also dropped a massive device known as the “Mother of all Bombs” on a militant hideout in Afghanistan, killing 92 suspected jihadists.