UNITED NATIONS: North Korea’s UN envoy accused the US and South Korea on Tuesday of pushing the Korean peninsula closer to the brink of nuclear war, telling the UN General Assembly that as a result his country had no choice but to further accelerate a build-up of its self-defence capabilities.

“The year 2023 has been recorded as an extremely dangerous year,” Ambassador Kim Song told the last day of the annual UN gathering of world leaders. “The Korean peninsula is in a hair-trigger situation with imminent danger of nuclear war breakout.”

“Given the prevailing circumstances, the DPRK (North Korea) is urgently required to further accelerate the build-up of its self-defence capabilities to defend itself impregnably,” Kim told the 193-member General Assembly.

North Korea has tested dozens of ballistic missile in the past 18 months. The US has long warned that Pyongyang was ready to carry out a seventh nuclear test.

Pyongyang says it is exercising its right to self-defence with its ballistic missile tests to safeguard its sovereignty and security interests from military threats.

“The DPRK remains steadfast and unchanged in its determination to firmly defend the national sovereignty, security interests and well-being of the people against the hostile threats from outside,” Kim said.

North Korea – formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) – has been under UN Security Council sanctions for its missile and nuclear programs since 2006. The measures have been steadily strengthened over the years.

However, for the past several years the 15-member Security Council has been divided over how to deal with Pyongyang. Russia and China, veto powers along with the US, Britain and France, have said more sanctions will not help and want such measures to be eased.

China and Russia say joint military drills by the US and South Korea provoke Pyongyang, while Washington accuses Beijing and Moscow of emboldening North Korea by shielding it from more sanctions. - Reuters

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