U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg condemned North Korea’s failed attempt on Wednesday to place a military spy satellite into orbit using ballistic missile technology, labeling it a sanctions violation and security threat in separate statements.
But in responses to each leader, North Korean officials on Friday reiterated the country’s position that it does not recognize U.N. Security Council sanctions on its space program and must defend itself against U.S. “hostile” policy.
“The DPRK’s launch of military reconnaissance satellite is a logical and legitimate response to the undisguised military threat of the U.S. and its allies,” Jo Chol Su, director general of the Department of International Organizations at North Korean foreign ministry, wrote in rebuttal to Guterres’ remarks.
It is “an exercise of the universal right of a sovereign state to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he wrote. “Nobody is entitled to take issue with this, even though he is the U.N. secretary-general.”
Jo accused the U.N. chief of “unbalanced and prejudiced” double standards for taking issue with North Korea’s space launches but not those of other countries. This criticism follows South Korea’s successful launch of its Nuri space launch vehicle (SLV) carrying eight satellites the previous week, though Jo did not specifically reference that launch.
Whether Guterres considers it his duty to state the position on the DPRK’s satellite launch, he should first learn how to treat more than 190 UN member countries equally, and reasonably explain why he criticizes only the DPRK’s satellite launch without questioning the same of other countries, Jo added.
He stressed that no one has the authority or quality to arbitrarily censure the DPRK, even if he is the UN chief.
We will continue to exercise sovereign rights with dignity, including the launching of the military reconnaissance satellite, to show that the UN is not a possession of the United States and that they do not easily get away with their despotism, arbitrariness and unilateralism in this world, Jo concluded.