North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations warned that “nuclear war can break out at any moment,” as the crisis on the Korean Peninsula “has reached the touch-and-go point.”
Kim In-ryong told the U.N. general assembly’s disarmament committee Monday that his country is the only nation that has been subject to “such an extreme and direct nuclear threat” from the United States since the 1970s.
Pyongyang has the right to possess nuclear weapons to defend itself, he said.
U.S. and Japanese diplomats agreed Tuesday to maximize pressure on North Korea to resolve tensions over its nuclear program.
U.S. Undersecretary of State John Sullivan met his Japanese counterpart, Shinsuke Sugiyama, and told reporters that the State Department is still focusing on diplomacy to eventually denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.
“We must, however, with our allies in Japan and South Korea and elsewhere, be prepared for the worst should diplomacy fail,” he said.
He said the U.S. must be prepared to defend itself and its allies.
Sugiyama reiterated Japan’s support for President Trump’s policy of keeping all options on the table, but stressed the need for a diplomatic solution by bolstering cooperation between Japan, U.S. and South Korea, and through cooperation with China and Russia.
The European Union announced new measures Monday to increase pressure on North Korea over its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile program, including a complete ban on EU investment in North Korea. Russian President Vladimir Putin also signed a decree to implement U.N. Security Council sanctions against Pyongyang.
The United States and South Korea began a week of military drills Monday in waters off South Korea's east coast, days after North Korea accused the U.S. of provocation by sending the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan to the Korean Peninsula.
The Multinational Mine Warfare Exercise is designed to train units in detecting and "neutralizing" sea mines to protect navigation routes, the Navy said in a statement.
The North conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test in September and launched missiles over Japan in August and September. It test-launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July.
Contributing: John Bacon, the Associated Press