N. Korea Tells U.N. “˜Hostile’ U.S. Policy Increased Tensions with South

Rachel Oswald, Global Security Newswire
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Rachel Oswald, Global Security Newswire
Oct. 1, 2013, 11:02 a.m.

WASH­ING­TON — North Korea in a Tues­day speech at the United Na­tions blamed “hos­tile” U.S. policies for this past spring’s heightened Korean Pen­in­sula ten­sions.

“The re­peated vi­cious cycle of mount­ing ten­sion on the Korean Pen­in­sula has its roots in the hos­tile policy of the U.S.” to­ward North Korea, North Korean Vice For­eign Min­is­ter Pak Kil Yon said in an ad­dress to the U.N. Gen­er­al As­sembly, ac­cord­ing to his pre­pared re­marks.

Out­raged by the United States and South Korea’s tra­di­tion­al spring joint mil­it­ary man­euvers, North Korea in April re­tali­ated by de­ploy­ing bal­list­ic mis­siles to its coast and warn­ing re­peatedly that it was on the verge of launch­ing nuc­le­ar at­tacks. Re­gion­al ten­sions gradu­ally cooled, though the ex­per­i­ence con­trib­uted to Wash­ing­ton’s de­cision to field ad­di­tion­al mis­sile in­ter­cept­ors in Alaska.

Pak also re­newed his gov­ern­ment’s griev­ances with the harsh sanc­tions im­posed upon it by the Se­cur­ity Coun­cil as pun­ish­ment for its re­cent mis­sile and nuc­le­ar tests.

“Un­der the ma­nip­u­la­tion of the United States, the for­cible ad­op­tion last Janu­ary of the un­fair ‘sanc­tions res­ol­u­tion’ was con­duc­ted by mak­ing an is­sue of our le­git­im­ate satel­lite launch,” Pak said.

He was re­fer­ring to North Korea’s Decem­ber launch of a long-range rock­et that was widely seen as an in­ter­con­tin­ent­al-bal­list­ic-mis­sile test. Though the rock­et fir­ing was suc­cess­ful, the North is not yet viewed as pos­sess­ing a cred­ible nuc­le­ar-armed bal­list­ic mis­sile.

The Se­cur­ity Coun­cil re­spon­ded to the launch by ex­pand­ing sanc­tions against Py­ongy­ang. After North Korea car­ried out its third nuc­le­ar test in Feb­ru­ary, the coun­cil in March upped sanc­tions again, this time aimed squarely at curb­ing the Kim Jong Un re­gime’s ac­cess to hard for­eign cur­rency.

Py­ongy­ang’s an­nu­al U.N. ad­dress offered noth­ing new to the West­ern for­eign-policy com­munity, U.S.-based ana­lysts said.

“Vice Min­is­ter Pak broke no new ground in his speech but in­stead trot­ted out the usu­al lit­any of North Korean ac­cus­a­tions of U.S. ‘hos­tile policy,’” Bruce Kling­n­er, a seni­or re­search fel­low at the con­ser­vat­ive Her­it­age Found­a­tion, told Glob­al Se­cur­ity News­wire in an e-mail. “Yet it is North Korea that re­peatedly makes threats of nuc­le­ar an­ni­hil­a­tion, raises ten­sion on the Korean Pen­in­sula, and at­tacks its neigh­bors.”

Pak, in New York, also took aim at the Se­cur­ity Coun­cil for ap­prov­ing a plan to elim­in­ate all of Syr­ia’s chem­ic­al weapons. North Korea is un­der­stood to hold a siz­able and var­ied chem­ic­al ar­sen­al and has not signed the Chem­ic­al Weapons Con­ven­tion, which for­bids their us­age.

“What is un­fold­ing in Syr­ia in the form of in­fringe­ments of its sov­er­eignty and ter­rit­ori­al in­teg­rity fur­ther breach­ing peace and sta­bil­ity, should not be al­lowed in any case,” said the vice for­eign min­is­ter, who ad­dressed the Gen­er­al As­sembly last year.

Pak did not dis­cuss his gov­ern­ment’s atom­ic weapons pro­gram or re­new Py­ongy­ang’s in­sist­ence that it has the right to pos­sess nuc­le­ar arms.

He did call for glob­al ne­go­ti­ations to “com­mence without fur­ther delay” on de­vel­op­ing a leg­al frame­work for provid­ing neg­at­ive se­cur­ity as­sur­ances to non-nuc­le­ar weapon hold­ers that they would nev­er be threatened with at­tack by na­tions pos­sess­ing such arma­ments.

Py­ongy­ang has said it is will­ing to re­turn to re­gion­al aid-for-de­nuc­lear­iz­a­tion ne­go­ti­ations but only if there are no pre­con­di­tions placed upon it.

Sung-yoon Lee, an as­sist­ant pro­fess­or of Korean Stud­ies at Tufts Uni­versity, said Py­ongy­ang uses the same rhet­or­ic in its yearly U.N. speeches for both do­mest­ic pro­pa­ganda pur­poses and in an at­tempt to gain sym­pathy from cer­tain U.N. mem­bers states, who them­selves per­ceive un­war­ran­ted ag­gress­ive­ness in U.S. for­eign-policy ac­tions.

“It’s in North Korea’s in­terests to re­peat it­self, blame the U.S. for a lot of things,” Lee said. “It’s not com­pletely a loss of fu­til­ity be­cause a lot of these [U.N. mem­ber states] would nod in agree­ment.”

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