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North Korea vows to strengthen "nuclear deterrent"
UNITED NATIONS |
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - North Korea vowed on Wednesday to bolster its "nuclear deterrent" in response to the threat posed by the United States, but promised never to use its atomic arsenal to attack or threaten any nation.
"As long as the U.S. nuclear aircraft carriers sail around the seas of our country, our nuclear deterrent can never be abandoned, but should be strengthened further," North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Pak Kil-yon told the U.N. General Assembly. "This is the lesson we have drawn."
"The United States is not a defender, but a disruptor, of peace," Pak said.
But he later struck a more moderate tone, telling the 192-nation assembly that Pyongyang's official policy goal remained the eventual "denuclearization of the Korean peninsula ... and the denuclearization of the world."
"Our nuclear weapons are not a means to attack or threaten others, but a self-defensive deterrent ... to counter aggression and attack from outside," Pak said.
He added that North Korea, as a "responsible nuclear weapon state," is ready to support international non-proliferation efforts and moves for the safe management of nuclear material "on an equal footing with other nuclear weapon states."
The United States and most other nations refuse to recognise North Korea, which withdrew from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003, as a nuclear weapons state.
The U.N. Security Council hit North Korea with two rounds of sanctions for detonating nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009 and has urged it to return to stalled six-party aid-for-disarmament talks with the United States, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea.
Pak also condemned what he described as "despicable trickery" by major powers and their attempts to overthrow governments in order to change political systems.
"Denying the rights of other countries to choose their own systems constitutes itself the violation of human rights of their people," he said in the English text of his speech. "The DPRK (North Korea) is one of those victimized countries."
U.S.-North Korean relations have worsened since President Barack Obama took office, and U.S. officials have expressed deep concern about the March 26 sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan.
The United States and other nations blame the North for the attack. Pyongyang denies the accusation.
Pak raised the Cheonan incident in his U.N. speech, accusing the Security Council of distorting the facts in a July 9 statement that condemned the attack leading to the sinking of the Cheonan but stopped short of blaming North Korea.
"The truth of the Cheonan incident is still under cover," he said.
China, the North's sole powerful ally, has urged regional powers to put the sinking, in which 46 South Korean sailors died, behind them and return to the six-party talks.
Beijing has also expressed alarm at U.S.-South Korean military exercises held in international waters off the Korean peninsula earlier this month, saying they threatened Chinese security interests and could destabilize the region.
In his speech Pak warned Seoul "not to create tension on the Korean peninsula by waging war exercises with outside forces and pursuing (a) confrontational approach."
(Editing by Stacey Joyce)
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