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Top North Korean Diplomat Vows To Boost Nuclear Arsenal

REUTERS/KCNA/File

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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North Korea’s foreign minister promised Friday to strengthen the country’s nuclear arsenal to handle threats from the United States, according to Yonhap News Agency.

“The successful nuclear warhead explosion test that we have conducted recently is part of practical countermeasure to the rackets of threats and sanctions of the hostile forces, including the United States,” North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho said at the United Nations General Assembly Friday.

“The DPRK will continue to take measures to strengthen its national nuclear armed forces in both quantity and quality in order to defend the dignity and the right to existence and safeguard the genuine peace vis-à-vis increased war threats of the U.S.,” he added.

North Korea is one of the most heavily-sanctioned countries in the world. Despite resolutions banning such activities, North Korea continues to test rockets, ballistic missiles, and nuclear weapons. The U.N. and international community are searching for new ways to pressure North Korea to change its behavior and end its nuclear weapons programs.

The foreign minister’s comments follow South Korean calls for the U.N. to reconsider North Korea’s U.N. membership.

“It is crystal clear that North Korea, as a serial offender, has manifestly failed to uphold its pledge to abide by the obligations of the U.N. Charter, particularly to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council,” said South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se in an address at the U.N. General Assembly, according to The Korea Times

“Therefore, I believe that it is high time to seriously consider whether North Korea is qualified to be a peace-loving U.N. member, as many other countries are already questioning,” Yun concluded.

South Korea’s foreign minister explained that the North is “totally ridiculing the authority of the General Assembly and the Security Council” through its repeated violations of resolutions and international norms.

This round of verbal sparring between North and South Korea follows the release of a Korean People’s Army (KPA) statement in which the KPA threatened to reduce Seoul to ashes and wipe U.S. bases off the face of the Earth. The statements came after South Korea discussed assassinating Kim Jong Un and U.S. bomber flights along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

The South has dismissed North Korean threats and called on it to end its blusterous and belligerent rhetoric.

“It is absurd that North Korea, which has threatened the peace and security on the Korean peninsula and in the world with nukes and missiles, (again) talks about turning Seoul into ashes,” the Ministry of National Defense said in a statement Friday. “We will sternly and strongly retaliate if provoked,” the statement added.

“We strongly recommend the North choose to improve inter-Korean ties in win-win strategy instead of taking the path to self-destruction through ceaseless provocations,” Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee told reporters.

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