North Korea envoy to U.N. denounces IAEA findings on nuclear power

UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 11 (UPI) — North Korea‘s ambassador to the United Nations said Monday that Pyongyang “categorically rejects” findings of the International Atomic Energy Agency, slamming the “ignorance” of the U.N. body regarding the “real situation” in his country.

Speaking at the 30th plenary meeting of the 74th session of the U.N. General Assembly on Monday, Ambassador Kim Song dismissed IAEA calls for nuclear verification, and the “application of safeguards,” in its annual report for 2018.

The IAEA had noted “intermittent reactor operation” at North Korea’s Yonbyon site in the 2018 report, but Kim said North Korea has “continued to make proactive efforts in good faith for lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

The ambassador added Pyongyang has “refrained from nuclear tests and [intercontinental ballistic missile] tests for 20 months” and that the Kim Jong Un regime has exercised “good will and tolerance to meet a universal desire for peace and stability.”

In September, at the general debate of the U.N. General Assembly, the North Korean envoy said Washington needs to “fully implement” the Singapore joint statement while accusing the United States of applying a “hostile policy” against North Korea.

On Monday, Kim Song said “consolidating stability” on the Korean Peninsula lies in the “thorough implementation” of the Singapore joint statement, signed by President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un in June 2018.

Following the summit, the two sides have “made little progress,” leading to a “vicious cycle of exacerbated tensions” and “military provocations perpetuated by anachronistic” policies against North Korea, the North Korean ambassador said.

Referring to the Singapore statement as a “historic declaration,” Kim Song said the document had “excited North and South,” but that the situation has come to a standstill “without advancing the main phase of implementation.”

The North Korean envoy also condemned the “double dealing of South Korean authorities” for holding joint military exercises “targeting” Pyongyang “behind the scenes.”

The “U.S.-South Korea military exercises challenge the North-South joint declaration,” Kim Song said, likely referring to the Pyongyang Joint Declaration of September 2018, signed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong Un.

The two heads of state have not held a formal summit for more than a year.

The North Korean ambassador also said the IAEA report contains “prejudice” that reflects the “unfavorable attitude” of the agency, while perpetuating “stereotypes” of the Kim Jong Un regime among “hostile forces.”

“If the IAEA is truly interested in the security of the Korean Peninsula, [it must remain] free from distrust,” Kim Song said.

The ambassador’s statement came after Cornel Feruta, acting director general of the IAEA, said at the U.N. that North Korea’s nuclear activity is a “cause for serious concern.”

Ten years have passed since Pyongyang expelled all international inspectors.

North Korea’s nuclear activity is a “clear violation” of the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council. The IAEA is monitoring Pyongyang’s nuclear program via satellite, Feruta said.

“The agency is ready to play an essential role in verifying the nuclear program, if a political agreement is reached among countries concerned,” Feruta said Monday.

Concern about North Korea’s weapons has increased since North Korea tested new weapons systems and short-range missiles in 2019.

A Japanese representative to the U.N. condemned Pyongyang on Monday. Missiles are a violation of the Security Council resolutions, and North Korea has an “obligation to take concrete steps to complete irreversible dismantlement of nuclear weapons,” the envoy said.

A South Korean representative to the U.N. said Seoul maintains “steadfast support” for the IAEA’s mandate to prevent the diversion and misuse of nuclear material in North Korea.

U.S.-North Korea talks have stalled, and critics have said the country is returning to old habits.

But other analysts say North Korea has made progress as Trump and Kim Jong Un forge a relationship through summits.

Tom Collina, policy director at Ploughshares Fund in Washington, told UPI by phone North Korea does deserve credit for not returning to more serious tests of ICBMs and nuclear weapons.

“North Korea has not conducted nuclear or long-range missile tests,” Collina said. “That is something we hope will be formalized by an agreement, if Trump and Kim get to that point. It’s a significant development.”

North Korea’s decision to refrain from crossing Trump’s “red line” on tests is significant in terms of preventing military conflict, the analyst said.

Pyongyang is also seeking the full implementation of the Singapore joint statement because of assurances Trump may have given Kim Jong Un.

The North Koreans may feel they were promised an end-of-war declaration, which has never been delivered, Collina said.

“I don’t understand, because it seems like a relatively easy thing to do,” the analyst said.