The UN has sparked outraged after announcing North Korea will chair a forum dedicated to nuclear disarmament, on the same day as Kim Jong-un carried out his sixth round of missile tests this year.
The regime will take over the rotating presidency of the Conference on Disarmament between May 30 and June 24.
The move was blasted by UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental organisation that monitors the international body.
Executive director Hillel Neuer said: ‘Having the North Korean regime of Kim Jong-un preside over global nuclear weapons disarmament will be like putting a serial rapist in charge of a women’s shelter.
‘This is a country that threatens to attack other UN member states with missiles, and that commits atrocities against its own people.
‘Torture and starvation are routine in North Korean political prison camps where an estimated 100,000 people are held in what is one of the world’s most dire human-rights situations.’
The UN has sparked outraged after announcing North Korea will chair a forum dedicated to nuclear disarmament
The group called for US and European ambassadors to walk out of the conference during North Korea’s presidency.
The post is mostly formal but UN Watch say it undermines the purpose of the conference to have such a regime as the president.
Neuer said: ‘North Korea holding the president’s gavel is liable to seriously undermine the image and credibility of the United Nations, and will send absolutely the worst message.
‘If the UN seeks to be an institution with a moral compass, it cannot allow the likes of North Korea to direct arms control agencies, and to keep electing the world’s worst abusers on its top human rights body.’
North Korea on Thursday fired at least two suspected ballistic missiles into the sea in its sixth round of weapons launches this month
The conference will report to the UN General Assembly and is billed by the UN as ‘the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community.’
It comes after North Korea fired what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles on Thursday making it the sixth round of tests.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it had detected the launch of what it presumed were two ballistic missiles at about 8 am near Hamhung, situated on the east coast of North Korea. They travelled for about 120mph to an altitude of 12mph.
North Korea said this month it would bolster its defenses against the United States and consider resuming ‘all temporally-suspended activities’, an apparent reference to a self-imposed moratorium on tests of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
The launch came after North Korea fired two cruise missiles into the sea off its east coast on Tuesday adding to the tension over its tests.
North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles on Thursday morning making it the sixth round of tests
The test took place at around 8am near Hamhung which is situated on the east coast of the country and traveled for about 120mph to an altitude of 20mph
Earlier in the month, North Korea tested tactical guided missiles, two ‘hypersonic missiles’ capable of high speed and maneuvering after lift-off, and a railway-borne missile system.
‘The (Kim Jong Un) regime is developing an impressive diversity of offensive weapons despite limited resources and serious economic challenges,’ said Leif-Eric Easley, an international affairs professor at Ewha University in Seoul.
Certain tests aim to develop new capabilities, especially for evading missile defenses while other launches are intended to demonstrate the readiness and versatility of missile forces that North Korea has already deployed, he said.
‘Some observers have suggested that the Kim regime´s frequent launches are a cry for attention but Pyongyang is running hard in what it perceives as an arms race with Seoul,’ Easley said.
This missile test is among a series that has been considered to be the most ever launched by the company
In a speech to the UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament on Tuesday, North Korea’s Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Han Tae Song, accused the United States of staging hundreds of ‘joint war drills’ while shipping high-tech offensive military equipment into South Korea and nuclear strategic weapons into the region.
‘(This) is seriously threatening the security of our state,’ Han said.
A U.S. State Department spokesperson condemned the launches as a violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions and a threat to North Korea’s neighbors and the international community.
The United States remains committed to a diplomatic approach and calls on North Korea to engage in dialogue, the spokesperson said.
As with other recent tests, the U.S. military’s Indo-Pacific Command said that the launch was destabilizing but did not pose an immediate threat to U.S. territory or personnel, or to its allies.
North Korea’s recent ‘remarkable development’ in nuclear and missile technology could not be overlooked, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a briefing.
South Korea’s National Security Council convened an emergency meeting, at which it said the launches were ‘very regrettable’ and went against calls for peace and stability in the region, the presidential Blue House said in a statement.
The Biden administration had sanctioned over North Korea’s weapons programs this month in response to their missile launches
U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration sanctioned several North Korean and Russian individuals and entities this month on accusations they were helping North Korea’s weapons programs but China and Russia delayed a U.S. bid to impose U.N. sanctions on five North Koreans.
On Wednesday, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Japan and Korea Mark Lambert said that Washington had ‘no reservations’ about talking with North Korea and was willing to meet anywhere and talk about anything.
‘We have to have a serious discussion about the denuclearization of North Korea, and if North Korea is willing to do that, all sorts of promising things can happen,’ he said during an online seminar hosted by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.
North Korea has defended its missile tests as a sovereign right of self-defense and said U.S. sanctions proved that even as the United States proposes talks, it maintained a ‘hostile’ policy.
‘The recent test-firing of new types of weapons was part of activities for carrying out a medium- and long-term plan for development of national science,’ the North Korean UN envoy Han said in a speech on Tuesday.
‘It does not pose any threat or damage to the security of neighboring countries and the region.’
North Korea has not launched long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) or tested nuclear weapons since 2017 but began testing a slew of shorter-range missiles after denuclearization talks stalled following a failed summit with the United States in 2019.