North Korea diplomat at U.N.: U.S. must relinquish ‘hostile policy’

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 30 (UPI) — North Korea‘s ambassador to the United Nations said Washington needs to “fully implement” the Singapore joint statement as he accused the United States of applying a “hostile policy” against North Korea on Monday.

Ambassador Kim Song also accused rivals of pursuing “regime change,” without referring to the United States by name.

Kim, who began his term at the North Korean mission to the U.N. in 2018, spoke at the general debate of the U.N. General Assembly, taking the place of Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, who last year called for an end to sanctions against Pyongyang.

On Monday, Kim kept his remarks brief — unlike other heads of state gathered at the U.N. this week, his speech lasted only about 10 minutes. The top North Korean diplomat to the U.N. neither directly mentioned denuclearization nor sanctions.

Kim, who was not seen at the assembly when South Korean President Moon Jae-in made his remarks on Tuesday, but did attend U.S. President Donald Trump‘s speech last week, suggested the United States is not upholding terms of agreement that were included in the Singapore Summit of 2018.

“More than one year has passed since the adoption of the June 12 [North Korea]-U.S. joint statement,” Kim said through an interpreter. “However the relations between [North Korea] and the United States have made little progress so far.”

The North Korean ambassador also said the “key to consolidating peace and stability” is the “full implementation” of the joint statement signed in Singapore.

Kim did not address the issue of North Korea’s recent return to tests of weapons systems. In July and August, Pyongyang repeatedly engaged in tests of short-range missiles, capable of reaching South Korean targets, while rejecting calls for cooperation from Seoul.

The North Korean diplomat told the General Assembly South Korea’s “double-dealing behavior” is to blame for lack of progress following the signing of inter-Korea declarations in 2018.

Kim said the South’s decision to hold joint military exercises with the United States “targets” North Korea and amounts to “hostile acts.”

“Improvement will be achieved when South Korea puts an end to the policy of dependence,” Kim said.

The diplomat indirectly addressed the issue of international sanctions against Pyongyang through a criticism of U.N. policy.

“The U.N. Security Council entrusted with the important mission of world peace and security, has been reduced into an instrument for the strategic interests of a specific country…thus pursuing sanctions and pressure, even regime change against selective countries,” he said.

Kim credited leader Kim Jong Un for advancing “economic construction” despite an “increasingly hostile situation”

“We have the solid foundation of a self-supporting economy,” he said in a statement, suggesting Pyongyang is uninterested in economic assistance or outside investment from willing partners like South Korea. “Our people are making efforts to overcome difficulties and challenges, to fully realize an independent and powerful country.”

North Korea is under heavy sanctions because of past nuclear weapons tests. The country has retreated from denuclearization talks in recent months. Working-level talks could be restarting soon, however, according to reports.

John Bolton, former U.S. national security adviser to Trump, said Monday Kim Jong Un will never volunteer to relinquish his nuclear weapons, according to Yonhap.

“It seems clear to me that [North Korea] has not made a strategic decision to give up its nuclear weapons. In fact, I think the contrary is true,” he said.

Last week, Trump said North Korea “must denuclearize” if the two sides are to reach an agreement.

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