North Korea threatens South with 'final destruction'

GENEVA Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:07pm IST

A North Korean flag flutters in the propaganda village of Gijeongdong as seen from South Korea's Taesungdong freedom village, near the border village of Panmunjom, during a graduation ceremony for Taesungdong Elementary School, in Paju February 15, 2013. REUTERS/Jung Yeon-je/Pool

A North Korean flag flutters in the propaganda village of Gijeongdong as seen from South Korea's Taesungdong freedom village, near the border village of Panmunjom, during a graduation ceremony for Taesungdong Elementary School, in Paju February 15, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jung Yeon-je/Pool

Related Topics

GENEVA (Reuters) - North Korea threatened South Korea with "final destruction" during a debate at the United Nations Conference on Disarmament on Tuesday, saying it could take further steps after a nuclear test last week.

"As the saying goes, a new-born puppy knows no fear of a tiger. South Korea's erratic behaviour would only herald its final destruction," North Korean diplomat Jon Yong Ryong told the meeting.

Jon's comments drew quick criticism from other nations, including South Korea, France, Germany and Britain, whose ambassador Joanne Adamson said such language was "completely inappropriate" and the discussion with North Korea was heading in the wrong direction.

"It cannot be allowed that we have expressions which refer to the possible destruction of U.N. member states," she said.

Spanish Ambassador Javier Gil Catalina said the comment left him stupefied and appeared to be a breach of international law.

"In the 30 years of my career I've never heard anything like it and it seems to me that we are not speaking about something that is even admissible, we are speaking about a threat of the use of force that is prohibited by Article 2.4 of the United Nations charter," Catalina said.

Since the North tested a nuclear bomb last week in defiance of U.N. resolutions, its southern neighbour has warned it could strike the isolated state if it believed an attack was imminent.

Pyongyang said the aim of the test was to bolster its defences given the hostility of the United States, which has led a push to impose sanctions on North Korea.

"Our current nuclear test is the primary countermeasure taken by the DPRK in which it exercised its maximum self-restraint," said the North Korean diplomat Jon.

"If the U.S. takes a hostile approach toward the DPRK to the last, rendering the situation complicated, it (North Korea) will be left with no option but to take the second and third stronger steps in succession," he said, without indicating what that might entail.

North Korea has already told key ally China that it is prepared to stage one or two more tests this year to force the United States into diplomatic talks, a source with direct knowledge of the message told Reuters last week.

"OFFENSIVE"

U.S. Ambassador Laura Kennedy said she found North Korea's threat on Tuesday profoundly disturbing and later tweeted that it was "offensive".

Poland's representative suggested North Korea's participation in the U.N. forum should be limited.

Impoverished and malnourished North Korea is one of the most heavily sanctioned states in the world.

It is still technically at war with South Korea after a 1950-53 civil war ended in a mere truce.

Washington and its allies are believed to be pushing to tighten the noose around North Korea's financial transactions in a bid to starve its leadership of funding.

Jon said last week's test was an act of self-defence against nuclear blackmail by the United States, which wanted to block North Korea's economic development and its fundamental rights.

"It is the disposition and firm will of the army and people of the DPRK to counter high-handed policy with tough-fist policy and to react to pressure and sanctions with an all-out counter-action," he said.

Jon said the United States had conducted most of the nuclear tests and satellite launches in history, and he described its pursuit of U.N. Security Council resolutions against North Korea as "a breach of international law and the height of double standards".

Neither Russia nor China, which are veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council, spoke at Tuesday's meeting in Geneva.

Before its nuclear test, North Korea was already facing growing diplomatic pressure at the United Nations.

The U.N. Human Rights Council is widely expected to order an inquiry next month into its leaders' responsibilities for crimes against humanity.

(Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

UKRAINE CRISIS

Reuters Showcase

Gaza Violence

Gaza Violence

Shi'ite militia kill dozens of Iraqi Sunnis in mosque shooting.  Full Article 

Fighting Ebola

Fighting Ebola

WHO warns of "shadow zones" and unreported Ebola cases.  Full Article 

Rising Toll

Rising Toll

Documented death toll in syria war at least 191,369 through April 2014 - U.N.  Full Article 

Tensions Ease

Tensions Ease

National Guard begins pullout from riot-weary Ferguson, Missouri.  Full Article 

Journalist's Murder

Journalist's Murder

U.N. Security Council condemns journalist's murder, urges defeat of Islamic State.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage