North Korea’s ambassador made a rare appearance at the United Nations Security Council to defend his country’s launch of a spy satellite, as Pyongyang’s state media said leader Kim Jong Un received satellite images of the White House and Pentagon.
Western powers, Japan and South Korea have said North Korea violated Security Council resolutions by launching the satellite last week.
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At the Security Council on Monday, Kim Song, North Korea’s ambassador to the UN, complained that other countries faced no restrictions on satellites.
“No other nation in the world is in the security environment as critical as the DPRK,” said Kim, using the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“One belligerent party, the United States, is threatening us with a nuclear weapon,” he said.
“It is a legitimate right for the DPRK as another belligerent party to develop, test, manufacture and possess weapons systems equivalent to those that the United States possesses or is developing.”
The country has said that its new eye in the sky has already provided images of major US and South Korean military sites, as well as photos of the Italian capital Rome.
On Monday, Kim received “in detail” images of the White House and the Pentagon, which he later studied, according to North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency.
The North Korean leader also counted the number of aircraft carriers at a military base and a shipyard in the state of Virginia, the agency said.
The US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, rejected North Korea’s assertion it was acting in self-defence and said that joint US-South Korean exercises were “routine” and “defensive in nature”.
“We intentionally reduce risk and pursue transparency by announcing the exercises in advance including the dates and the activities, unlike the DPRK,” she said, adding that the drills did not violate Security Council resolutions.
South Korea’s spy agency said that Russia, eager for assistance in Ukraine, helped North Korea on the satellite following a summit between Kim and President Vladimir Putin.
The US said last month that North Korea had delivered more than 1,000 containers of military equipment and munitions to Russia.
Russia and China, North Korea’s main ally, have put forward a resolution, opposed by the US, to ease sanctions on Pyongyang as part of an effort to encourage dialogue.
Chinese envoy Geng Shuang accused the US of “further aggravating tension and confrontation” through its military alliance with South Korea.
“If the DPRK constantly feels threatened, and its legitimate security concerns remain unresolved, the peninsula will not be able to get out of the security dilemma and only be caught in a vicious cycle of tit-for-tat aggressive moves,” he said.