01:21 12 January 2017
N. Korea asks U.N. for new forum to check legality of resolutions
By Seana K. Magee
NEW YORK, Jan. 11, Kyodo
North Korea has suggested that the United Nations should create an international forum for legal experts to examine the basis for U.N. sanctions resolutions in connection with the country's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, a North Korean diplomat told Kyodo News.
According to the diplomat, who asked to remain anonymous, Ja Song Nam, North Korean ambassador to the United Nations, on Tuesday met with Jeffrey Feltman, U.N. undersecretary general of political affairs, and proposed setting up the forum either in New York or Geneva, where U.N. headquarters are located.
The diplomat said that Pyongyang wants an explanation regarding the legal grounds for the sanctions resolutions that describe North Korea's nuclear tests and rocket launches as constituting "a threat to international peace and security."
North Korea wants to confirm "if there are...any international laws against those kind of launch (to call them) threats to international peace and security," the diplomat said.
He offered few details on how the proposed forum would function or be structured, emphasizing that "this (idea) is brand new," but he said Pyongyang does not rule out the participation of countries such as the United States as the forum would involve international experts. There was "no reason to be excluded," he said.
The United States has led the U.N. Security Council in passing sanctions resolutions against Pyongyang and there is no official channel between the two countries.
According to the diplomat, Feltman told Ja that he will discuss the matter with relevant U.N. agency officials.
The United Nations confirmed that the meeting had taken place but did not provide any further details.
Whether the forum will be established remains unclear as the talks between Ja and Feltman took place amid changes at the United Nations, with new Secretary General Antonio Guterres only taking the helm from Jan. 1, and at the White House, with the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump set for Jan. 20.
North Korea sent two letters of protest over the sanctions resolutions to the previous Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.
In a Jan. 5 letter to Guterres, Ja complained that the global body had yet to answer the questions regarding the legal grounds of the Security Council sanctions resolutions in connection with North Korea's "nuclear tests and peaceful satellite launch."
"If any nuclear test or satellite or ballistic rocket launch were considered a 'threat to international peace and security,' the U.N. Security Council should have made an issue of and enforced sanctions on the United States and other countries regarding their nuclear tests of over 2,000 times, ongoing regular satellite and ballistic rocket launches," he wrote.
In the letter, Ja also insisted that his country has a legitimate right to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile, which North Korean leader Kim Jong Un indicated in a New Year address. Kim recently said that his country has entered the final stage of preparing to test-launch the long-range missile.
North Korea conducted two nuclear tests and test-launched more than 20 ballistic missiles last year in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions, which are increasingly putting a stranglehold on the country in a range of areas.
The centerpiece of the Nov. 30 resolution was a cap on North Korea's coal exports -- the cash-strapped state's biggest export -- that could choke off funding sources for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs if implemented to the full extent.