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N. Korea says Asean ‘not morally qualified’ to rebuke its nuke program

/ 07:37 PM August 07, 2017
Alan Peter Cayetano and Ri Yong-ho - Asean - 7 Aug 2017

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano (left) conveys the Asean position on the situation in the Korean Peninsula to Foreign Minister Ri Yong-Ho of the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017. (Photo from the Asean website)

North Korea on Monday said its nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile program is non-negotiable, chiding the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) group for rebuking the isolated communist country but not the United States for its “hostile policy” toward Pyongyang.

Reporters covering the Asean foreign ministers meetings in Manila waited for North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho at the New World Manila Bay Hotel.

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Ri ignored reporters’ questions, while a staff handed out his statement, written in both Korean and English, during Monday’s 24th Asean Regional Forum (ARF), which served as a venue for North Korea to have dialogue with the Asean and its partner countries the United States, South Korea, and Japan.

In an ambush interview with reporters, Bang Kwang Hyuk, spokesperson for the North Korean ARF delegation, said Pyongyang would not change its mind about developing its nuclear defense against the United States.

In the statement, Pyongyang chided Asean member states for not being “morally qualified” to tackle North Korea’s nuclear program because they ignored the “hostile policy and nuclear threat” that the US imposed on North Korea.

North Korea made the statement as the Asean rebuked the communist country’s nuclear program as a world threat.

Pyongyang said it was only propping up its defense nuclear program against a possible threat from the United States. The program was not being prepared against any other country.

“Several Ministers of Foreign Affairs here are expressing concern about the situation of the Korean peninsula, but those countries that are unable or fail to take issue with the US hostile policy and nuclear threat towards the DPRK, the root cause of the problem, are not morally qualified to talk about the nuclear issue of the Korean peninsula,” the statement read.

“We will, under no circumstances, put the nukes and ballistic rockets on negotiating table,” it added.

North Korea attended the Asean Regional Forum on Monday. /atm

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