North Korea on Thursday slammed a statement by European UN Security Council members urging strict enforcement of sanctions against Pyongyang for its latest missile test, calling the move a “grave provocation”.
Pyongyang fired a sea-launched missile on October 2 in the latest — and most provocative — of a series of weapons tests, just days before long-stalled US-North Korean nuclear talks were to resume in Sweden, AFP reports.
The North then walked away from the Stockholm talks on Saturday saying it was disappointed at the lack of “new and creative” solutions offered by Washington, although the US said it was willing to meet again in two weeks.
In their statement at the UN Tuesday, the Europeans — France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Britain and Estonia — condemned Pyongyang’s tests and urged it to engage in “good faith in meaningful negotiations with the United States.”
The North on Thursday accused the Europeans of double standards. “It is a grave provocation against us for the UN Security Council to not say a single word on the recent test of Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile by the US but to pick on our righteous actions guaranteed by the right of self-defence,” a foreign ministry spokesperson said.
Washington has spent decades and billions of dollars developing technologies to try to stop an incoming ballistic missile, and said last week that it had tested an unarmed Minuteman III ICBM.
“Our patience has its limits, and there is no rule that what we have been refraining from will continue (as it is) indefinitely,” the North Korean spokesperson added in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
Pyongyang declared a moratorium on intercontinental ballistic missile launches and nuclear tests at the end of 2017, saying it had completed the development of the deterrent, which it says it needs to defend against a possible US invasion.
The nuclear-armed North is under multiple sets of sanctions imposed by the UN, US, EU and others in an attempt to dissuade it from pursuing its weapons programmes.
Under leader Kim Jong Un it has carried out more than 100 missile launches, including ICBMs capable of reaching the entire United States, and in 2017 detonated its sixth nuclear blast.
Last week, it tested a device it said was a submarine-launched ballistic missile that marked a “new phase” in its capabilities, although the US said it seemed to have been fired from a “sea-based platform”.
In their statement, the European Security Council members said the North’s missile tests “undermine regional security and stability and they are in clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
“International sanctions must remain in place and be fully and strictly enforced,” they added.