The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s United Nations envoy accused the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) on Tuesday of pushing the Korean peninsula closer to the brink of nuclear war, telling the UN General Assembly that, as a result, his country had no choice but to further accelerate a build-up of its self-defense capabilities.
"The year 2023 has been recorded as an extremely dangerous year," Ambassador Kim Song told the last day of the annual UN gathering of world leaders. "The Korean Peninsula is in a hair-trigger situation with imminent danger of nuclear war breakout."
"Given the prevailing circumstances, the DPRK is urgently required to further accelerate the build-up of its self-defense capabilities to defend itself impregnably," Kim told the 193-member General Assembly.
The DPRK has tested dozens of ballistic missiles in the past 18 months. The United States has long warned that Pyongyang was ready to carry out a seventh nuclear test.
Pyongyang says it is exercising its right to self-defense with its ballistic missile tests to safeguard its sovereignty and security interests from military threats.
"The DPRK remains steadfast and unchanged in its determination to firmly defend the national sovereignty, security interests and well-being of the people against the hostile threats from outside," Kim said.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned at the General Assembly against a new atomic arms race bringing the threat of "annihilation" to the world.
With nuclear-armed nations expanding and modernizing their arsenals, the UN chief called for a revitalized push to reduce and eventually eliminate those weapons.
"A worrisome new arms race is brewing. The number of nuclear weapons could rise for the first time in decades," Guterres said. "Any use of a nuclear weapon - anytime, anywhere and in any context - would unleash a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions," he said.
The DPRK has been under UN Security Council sanctions for its missile and nuclear programs since 2006. The measures have been steadily strengthened over the years.
(With input from agencies)
(Cover: The national flag of the DPRK is seen in Geneva, Switzerland, June 20, 2017. /Reuters)