UNITED NATIONS — Showing no signs of backing down, North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations on Monday promised retaliation against any American military action and defended the reclusive state’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs as necessary for self-defense.
In a news conference Monday, Kim In Ryong cited the U.S. airstrike in Syria as evidence of an American threat to Pyongyang’s sovereignty.
“As everybody knows, nowadays the U.S. without hesitations perpetrate military attack and threatens at a sovereign state while claiming the ‘peace by strength,'” Kim said.
“The recent U.S. massive missile attack on Syria tells you well of it,” he said.
Kim accused Washington of “harassing the peace and stability” on the Korean Peninsula and called its justification of the recent firing of 59 Tomahawk missiles at an air base in Syria — described as a “proportionate response” to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians — “gangster-like logic.”
“We never beg for peace, and we will take toughest counteraction against the provocateurs in order to defend ourselves by powerful force of arms and keep the road chosen by ourselves,” Kim said.
The ambassador went on to accuse the U.S. of creating a “dangerous situation in which a thermo-nuclear war may break out in any moment on the peninsula.”
Kim defended the previous day’s failed test launch of a ballistic missile — in violation of U.N. resolutions — as part of a “normal process” of self-defense. He also suggested that a sixth nuclear weapons test could come whenever Pyongyang deems it necessary.
The U.S. also ratcheted up its rhetoric, with Vice President Mike Pence warning in Seoul that “the era of strategic patience is over.”
Pence’s remarks fall in line with a series of actions signaling a more aggressive American stance on Pyongyang, including the dispatching of a nuclear aircraft carrier to the Korean Peninsula. President Donald Trump has indicated a willingness to take unilateral action against the North.
As president of the 15-member U.N. Security Council this month, the U.S. has called for an April 28 meeting to discuss North Korean nonproliferation. The gathering will be in an open-discussion format and chaired by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, called Sunday’s test launch troubling in a daily news conference Monday. “We call on the DPRK to take all the steps necessary to de-escalate the situation and return to a dialogue on denuclearization,” Dujarric said, calling the North by the abbreviation for its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.