SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea’s foreign minister called U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “a puppet of the United States” as she criticized the U.N. chief for joining U.S.-led condemnation of the North’s recent intercontinental ballistic missile test.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier issued a statement strongly condemning North Korea’s ICBM launch on Friday and reiterating his call for the North to “immediately refrain from taking any further provocative actions.” Guterres’ statement came after the United States and other countries issued similar criticisms of the North’s ICBM test that showed the potential to strike anywhere in the continental United States.
“I often take the UN Secretary General for a member of the US White House or its State Department,” North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui said in a statement carried by state media. “I express my strong regret at the fact that the Secretary-General of the United Nations has taken a very deplorable position, ignorant of the purpose and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and its proper mission, which is to maintain impartiality, objectivity and justice in all matters.”
Choe accused Guterres of overlooking the US and its allies who took the North’s ICBM test to the UN Security Council, saying that “This clearly proves that he is a puppet of the US.”
The UN Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting Monday morning on North Korea’s ICBM launch at Japan’s request. But it is unclear whether it could impose new economic sanctions on North Korea because China and Russia, two of the council’s veto-wielding members, have opposed earlier moves by the United States and its allies to tighten sanctions on the North over its banned tests of ballistic missiles earlier this year.
On Sunday, top diplomats from the world’s major industrialized democracies issued a joint statement calling for strong action by the UN Security Council in response to the North Korean missile launch. “(North Korea’s) actions require a united and robust response from the international community, including the need for further significant action to be taken by the UN Security Council,” said the foreign ministers from the Group of Seven nations – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan , Great Britain and the United States.
Friday’s ICBM launch was the latest in North Korea’s ongoing spate of missile tests, which experts say are intended to boost its nuclear capabilities and increase its leverage in future diplomacy.
North Korea said leader Kim Jong Un observed Friday’s launch of its Hwasong-17 missile, calling it another “reliable and maximum capability” weapon to contain US military threats. Some experts say the Hwasong-17 is still under development, but it is the North’s longest-range missile and is designed to carry multiple nuclear warheads to defeat US missile defense systems.
North Korea has claimed its test activities are a warning to the United States and South Korea over their series of military drills, which North Korea believes were an invasion exercise. Washington and Seoul have maintained that their exercises are defensive.
In his statement on Monday, Choe again defended his country’s missile tests, calling them “legitimate and just exercise of the right of self-defense” against “provocative nuclear war tests” by the United States and its allies. She said it is “most amazing and regrettable to me” that Guterres still blamed North Korea for a recent flare-up of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, not the United States.
A day before his country’s ICBM test, Choe threatened to launch “harder” military responses to moves by the United States to strengthen its security commitment to South Korea and Japan.