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South Korea condemns North for ‘abusing’ NPT regime, urges to cease provocations

Ham Sang-wook, Deputy Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs of South Korea‘s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, addresses the 10th Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York on Monday.(Yonhap)
Ham Sang-wook, Deputy Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs of South Korea‘s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, addresses the 10th Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York on Monday.(Yonhap)

South Korea strongly condemned the North for “abusing” the Non-Proliferation Treaty to openly develop nuclear weapons and urged the regime to return to dialogue for complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization during international nuclear arms talks.

Addressing the 10th NPT Review Conference held at the UN headquarters in New York on Monday, Korean Deputy Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs of Foreign Ministry Ham Sang-wook said the nonproliferation goal is being challenged amid growing threats from nonmember states and delivered Seoul’s unwavering commitment to strengthening the NPT regime.

“While relentlessly developing nuclear and missile programs, the DPRK has been launching ballistic missiles at an unprecedented frequency, 31 this year alone, in flagrant violation of the UN Security Council resolutions,” Ham Sang-wook, deputy minister for multilateral and global affairs of South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said during the general session. He referred to North Korea by the acronym of its official name, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“Furthermore, the DPRK is assessed to be technically ready for yet another nuclear test, which would be its seventh. The DPRK is the only country to abuse the NPT regime and openly develop nuclear weapons.”

Ham underscored how the actions NPT members take to deter Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions will be a “litmus test” on the NPT regime’s viability. At the same time, he urged the North to return to dialogue for denuclearization.

“We urge the DPRK to cease all kinds of provocations, comply with the UN Security Council resolutions, return to fully comply with the NPT at an early date, and denuclearize in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner,” Ham said.

“At the same time, we take this opportunity to make it clear that the door to dialogue remains open.”

North Korea was a state party to the NPT in 1985, but withdrew from the treaty in 2003.

According to an assessment by the intelligence agencies of Seoul and Washington, Pyongyang has completed preparations to conduct its seventh nuclear test. The last nuclear test was in September 2017.

At the review conference, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also expressed concerns about threats posed by North Korea and Iran and stressed the importance of the NPT. The top US diplomat also called out Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, and for engaging in “reckless, dangerous nuclear saber-rattling” to violate multiple international agreements, including the UN Charter.

“And so we come together at a critical moment. The DPRK continues to expand its unlawful nuclear program and continues its ongoing provocations against the region,” Blinken said.

“As we gather today, Pyongyang is preparing to conduct its seventh nuclear test. Iran remains on a path of nuclear escalation.”

Before the conference opened, the US issued a joint ministerial statement with France, Britain and Northern Ireland to condemn Russia and Iran for creating military tension.

”Nuclear weapons, for as long as they exist, should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war,“ the statement reads.

”We condemn those who would use or threaten to use nuclear weapons for military coercion, intimidation, and blackmail. Such actions are profoundly dangerous and contrary to the purposes of the NPT and the UN Charter.”

Criticizing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “unlawful,” the countries called for Russia to stop its “irresponsible and dangerous nuclear rhetoric and behavior” and to adhere to its international commitments.

They also reiterated their commitment to bring ”complete, verifiable and irreversible” dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear weapons, and urged Pyongyang to cease all of its nuclear tests and ballistic missiles that are banned by multiple UN Security Council resolutions.

On the sidelines of the main session, Korea’s Foreign Ministry hosted “North Korea: Addressing the Nuclear Challenge” at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations in New York, together with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Some 70 people from permanent missions to the UN and delegates to the NPT Review Conferences attended the event. The topics discussed include North Korea’s nuclear and missile development, its domestic and foreign policy, cyber capabilities, and international sanctions imposed against the reclusive regime, according to Seoul’s Foreign Ministry.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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