| UNITED NATIONS
UNITED NATIONS North Korea on Monday rejected accusations by United Nations experts that Pyongyang is evading international sanctions with a sophisticated network of overseas companies, describing a report to the U.N. Security Council as a "fraudulent document."
North Korea is under heavy U.N. sanctions and an arms embargo designed to impede the development of its banned nuclear and missile programmes. A panel of experts monitors violations of those sanctions for the 15-member Security Council.
The latest annual report by the experts, seen by Reuters last month, said North Korea "is flouting sanctions through trade in prohibited goods, with evasion techniques that are increasing in scale, scope and sophistication."
North Korea's mission to the United Nations said in a statement on Monday that the sanctions were "fully denying the right to live and development of our people and destroying the modern civilization as well as making our society turn back to the medieval dark land."
Pyongyang renewed its call for the United Nations to convene an international forum of lawyers in New York or Geneva to clarify the legal basis for sanctions.
It again threatened "stronger self defensive counter-measures" and said the United States and the U.N. Security Council would be to blame for any escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula or in the region.
The U.N. experts report said the enforcement of sanctions against North Korea "remains insufficient and highly inconsistent" and calls for additional measures to address shortcomings.
North Korea fired four ballistic missiles into the sea off Japan's northwest on Monday, angering South Korea and Japan, days after it promised retaliation over U.S.-South Korea military drills it sees as preparation for war.
In a letter on Monday to British U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, president of the Security Council for March, North Korea's U.N. Ambassador Ja Song Nam warned that "the situation on the Korean Peninsula is again inching to the brink of a nuclear war" due to the U.S.-South Korea military drills.
Ja again requested that the U.N. Security Council meet to discuss the military drills. Previous such requests have gone unanswered by the Security Council. The letter did not mention North Korea's missile launches on Monday.
The United States and Japan have requested a United Nations Security Council meeting on North Korea's missile launches, which will likely be scheduled for Wednesday, diplomats said.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by James Dalgleish)