A North Korean flag flies on a mast at the Permanent Mission of North Korea in Geneva. File photo/ Reuters
North Korea lashed back at the United States for taking issue with its human rights record on Saturday, saying Washington’s “verbal abuse” would only aggravate tensions on the Korean Peninsula, state news agency KCNA reported.
The KCNA statement, attributed to a foreign ministry spokesperson, warned that if the United States tried to take issue with the North’s system of government by citing human rights problems, it would “pay dearly.”
The United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday condemned North Korea’s “long-standing and ongoing” violations of human rights in an annual resolution sponsored by dozens of countries including the United States that Pyongyang’s UN envoy rejected.
The North Korean Foreign Ministry statement is its first since US special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, publicly urged Pyongyang on Monday to return to talks. There has been no direct response from North Korea to Biegun’s entreaty.
North Korea has conducted a series of weapons tests in recent weeks and some experts say the reclusive state may be preparing for an intercontinental ballistic missile test that could put it back on a path of confrontation with the United States.
North Korea has repeatedly called for the United States to drop its “hostile policy” before more talks, as its self-imposed year-end deadline for denuclearisation negotiations approaches.
Kim said the latest missile test was “an occasion to send an adequate warning to the joint military drill now underway by the US and South Korean authorities,” according to KCNA.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin are travelling in Asia this week for foreign policy and security talks with allies in Japan and South Korea, among other stops.
The missiles, launched from near the coastal city of Wonsan, flew about 430 km (267 miles) out over the sea, reaching an altitude of 50 km (30 miles), before splashing down,
Brigadier Tembinkosi Kinana said police were alerted by members of the public to the incident at Scenery Park, about three kms from the city centre.
"While this bill doesn't do everything I want, it does include actions I've long called for that are going to save lives," he said at the White House before leaving for two major diplomatic summits in Europe.
Four explosions were heard at around 6:30am (0330 GMT), half an hour after air raid sirens sounded in the capital, which has not come under Russian bombardment for nearly three weeks.