Ri Tong-il, North Korea’s ambassador to the UN, said in an address that “no one knows when war will break out”between the two antagonistic nations.
“The situation on the peninsula is on the brink of explosion,” Ri said, adding that North Korea is a nuclear state not subject to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which he condemned as “blindly” supportive of the US.
He went on to say that the six-way talks that tried to persuade Pyongyang to end its nuclear weapons program had failed.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Association described Pyongyang’s stance as “deeply troubling.” The UN also condemned the country’s “military-first policy,” and called for communist ruler Kim Jong-Un to work to raise the country’s living standards.
“I continue to be concerned with both the human rights and humanitarian situation in the country,” UN special rapporteur Marzuki Darusman said in a statement. “Slow economic growth coupled with what is known as a ‘military-first policy’ will of course be detrimental to the welfare of the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”
Darusman stressed that Pyongyang was putting its nuclear ambitions over the wellbeing of North Koreans, 60 percent of who suffer from malnutrition and food shortages.
Washington cut off aid packages to North Korea earlier in April following Pyongyang’s failed attempt to test a long-range missile. The launch was widely perceived by the international community as a veiled attempt to see if a nuclear warhead could be carried on the missile.
The US has been steadily increasing its military presence in South Korea. Washington claims the buildup is purely defensive, and is not a sign of imminent military action against the North.