09:52 7 March 2017
N. Korea slams report on U.N. sanctions, lodges protests
NEW YORK, March 6, Kyodo
North Korea on Monday denounced a recent report by a U.N. panel of experts concluding Pyongyang was stepping up its efforts to evade international sanctions.
Its ambassador to the United Nations also lodged protests over the joint U.S.-South Korean military drills taking place in the region and objected to the detention of its citizens.
The protests come as the U.N. Security Council is planning to hold an emergency meeting later this week to respond to North Korea's latest launching of missiles in defiance of past Security Council resolutions.
"The issuing of the annual report of the Panel of Experts will only result in our strong, self-defensive countermeasures and all the responsibilities for any uncontrolled critical situation over the Korean Peninsula and the rest of the region will be borne by the U.S.," Ri Song Chol, the mission's counselor, told Kyodo News in an interview.
The mission's press statement, which he said had been issued for the first time despite the publication of reports almost every year since 2010, "categorically denounces" the contents of the latest report.
This year's report says North Korea is increasing the scale and refinement of the tactics it uses to evade international sanctions, particularly in the lucrative military technology trade.
After North Korea conducted its fourth and fifth underground nuclear tests last year, it was subjected to increasingly harsher rounds of sanctions. The last round imposed in November hit its coal exports particularly hard, placing increasing pressure on its sources of income.
As the exports to China surpassed the ceiling set by the council, Beijing last month suspended all imports from the North for at least the remainder of the year.
Ri claimed that an earlier proposal to hold an international forum of legal experts to discuss the legal basis of the sanctions resolutions, which Pyongyang vehemently opposes, has been left unanswered so far.
Meanwhile, North Korean Ambassador Ja Song Nam also submitted two letters lodging protests in other areas to the current president of the Security Council and U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres respectively.
Addressing British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, the envoy slammed the current annual joint military maneuvers that began last week by the United States and South Korea as it had in the past.
While Washington and Seoul view the drills as routine, Ja described them as "undisguised nuclear war maneuvers." In the letter, Rycroft was asked to put the issue on the Security Council agenda. So far the 15-member council has not taken up the request in the past nor is it likely to do so, diplomats have said.
Ja also asked Guterres to address what Pyongyang views as the detention of Kim Ryon Hui, who left her country in 2011, initially to seek medical treatment, and wound up in South Korea.
Hui's daughter and the parents of 12 women who the North claims have been kidnapped and not heard from since last April submitted letters to the U.N. chief as part of a package.
While the officials claim that their pleas to release their citizens have been ignored and constitutes a "contemporary crime against humanity," the North has itself been accused of grave and systematic human rights violations.