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Business News/ News / World/  North Korea, US envoys engage in rare public sparring at UN meeting
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North Korea, US envoys engage in rare public sparring at UN meeting

US and North Korean ambassadors engage in heated debate at UN Security Council over spy satellite launch and escalating tensions in the region.

This photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, center, and his daughter, center left, pose with staff of the National Aerospace Technology Administration (NATA) for a group photo, following the launch of a spy satellite in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Nov. 23, 2023. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: 'KCNA' which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. AP/PTI (AP)Premium
This photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, center, and his daughter, center left, pose with staff of the National Aerospace Technology Administration (NATA) for a group photo, following the launch of a spy satellite in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Nov. 23, 2023. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: 'KCNA' which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. AP/PTI (AP)

In an unusual and direct public exchange between the United States and North Korea, the United Nations ambassadors of both countries engaged in a heated debate at the Security Council on Monday.

As reported by Reuters, the contentious discussion focused on North Korea's recent launch of its first spy satellite and the escalating tensions in the region.

After an absence of nearly six years, North Korea resumed sending its envoy to UN Security Council meetings concerning its nuclear and ballistic missile programs in July. The meeting on Monday specifically addressed the spy satellite launch that occurred on November 21, Reuters reported.

Also Read: North Korea's Kim Jong Un orders steps to boost ties with Russia amid US, Seoul warning of weapons deal

Following the meeting's conclusion, both US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield and North Korean Ambassador Kim Song unexpectedly delivered remarks, engaging in a back-and-forth exchange of rights-of-reply across the council table. Each representative asserted that their respective countries were acting defensively in the ongoing tensions.

“One belligerent party, the United States, is threatening us with a nuclear weapon," Kim told the council.

Also Read: North Korea accuses US, South Korea of pushing Korean peninsula towards nuclear war at UNGA

“It is legitimate right for the DPRK - as another belligerent party - to develop, test, manufacture and possess weapons systems equivalent to those that the United States already possess and, or (are) developing right now," he said.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), commonly known as North Korea, has faced UN sanctions for its ballistic missile and nuclear programs since 2006. These sanctions include a prohibition on the development of ballistic missiles.

Despite the ban, North Korea employed this technology in launching the recent satellite, which comes after a series of ballistic missile tests conducted over the past 20 months. The United States has consistently cautioned that Pyongyang is prepared to conduct its seventh nuclear test.

Also Read: Kim Jong Un enroute to meet Putin; US urges N Korea ‘not to sell Russia arms’

“We reject strongly the disingenuous DPRK claim that its missile launches are merely defensive in nature, in response to our bilateral and trilateral military exercises," said Thomas-Greenfield, adding that the US exercises were routine, defensive and announced in advance.

“Once again, I'd like to express sincerely our offer of dialogue without preconditions, the DPRK only needs to accept," she said.

Negotiations on denuclearization involving North Korea, South Korea, China, the United States, Russia, and Japan came to a standstill in 2009. Subsequent talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and then-US President Donald Trump in 2018 and 2019 also proved unsuccessful.

Also Read: ‘Travis King wants refuge from racism in US’: North Korea

Kim said that until “the persistent military threat" was eliminated, North Korea would continue to strengthen its capabilities. Thomas-Greenfield said North Korea's actions were based on paranoia about a possible US attack.

"If there's anything the United States wants to provide to the DPRK, that is humanitarian assistance for your people and not weapons to destroy your people," Thomas-Greenfield said.

Also Read: North Korea threatens to use nuclear weapons against US-South Korea, blames alliance for escalating tension

In recent years, the UN Security Council has been marked by divisions in its approach toward addressing the issue of North Korea. Russia and China, both wielding veto powers alongside the US, Britain, and France, have expressed the view that additional sanctions would be ineffective and advocate for the easing of such measures, Reuters reported.

Also Read: What is ‘Hero Kim Kun Ok’, North Korea's new nuclear submarine to counter US naval power

China and Russia argue that joint military exercises conducted by the United States and South Korea serve to provoke Pyongyang, whereas Washington alleges that Beijing and Moscow contribute to emboldening North Korea by shielding it from more sanctions.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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Published: 28 Nov 2023, 07:41 AM IST
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