North Korea defends its nuclear program at the U.N., blames America


North Korea, in the first speech at the U.N. General Assembly in 15 years by its foreign minister, defended its nuclear development on Saturday, saying the program is necessary to counter a hostile U.S. policy.

Ri Su Yong, North Korea’s foreign minister, also criticized the U.N. Security Council for rejecting a proposal to discuss what it saw as a threat from U.S. military maneuvers. There was no mention of issues related to Japan in his 15-plus minute speech at the U.N. General Assembly.

“The nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula is a matter of sovereignty and right to life of a U.N. member state before peace and security,” Ri said.

The hostile policy and nuclear threat by the United States “inevitably resulted in the decision of nuclear weapons state of the DPRK,” Ri said, using the acronym of North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“The nuclear issue will be resolved” if the United States drops its hostile policy, Ri added.

Ri also lashed out at the U.N. Security Council for failing to meet Pyongyang’s call to take up joint military exercises by the United States and South Korea.

North Korea said the military drills helped raise tensions around the Korean Peninsula and endangered peace and security there. “However, the Security Council turned its back,” Ri said.

The foreign minister said as South Korea has given its military command to the United States, various types of weapons of mass destruction “that can destroy the Korean nation more than hundreds of times over are now deployed and hidden on its own soil.”

The North Korean diplomat also slammed a ministerial meeting hosted Tuesday by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry about the issue of North Korea’s violations of human rights.

“It is all the more preposterous to talk about human rights dialogue while preventing to the last ditch the DPRK as the direct party from participating in the meeting,” Ri said.

Kerry invited his counterparts from Japan and South Korea — Fumio Kishida and Yun Byung Se — to the meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly but rejected a call by North Korea to join the event.