In this UNTV image grab, Kim Song, the permanent representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to the United Nations, speaks in person during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters, in New York, on Sept 29, 2020. (PHOTO / UNTV VIA AP)
NEW YORK/PYONGYANG - The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has a "reliable and effective war deterrent for self-defense" and will now focus on developing its economy, DPRK's UN Ambassador Kim Song said on Tuesday, though he acknowledged that international sanctions were a hindrance.
Addressing the UN General Assembly, Kim also said the "anti-epidemic situation in our country is now under safe and stable control" as a result of measures taken to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. DPRK has said it has no confirmed cases, though some US officials have cast doubt on that claim.
Already weighed down by tough international sanctions over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, Pyongyang is also facing significant economic damage from strict border closures and other measures aimed at preventing a coronavirus outbreak and struggling to cope with damage from recent storms and flooding.
Based on its reliable guarantee for safeguarding the security of the state and people, the DPRK is now directing all its efforts to economic construction.
Kim Song, DPRK's UN Ambassador
"Based on its reliable guarantee for safeguarding the security of the state and people, the DPRK is now directing all its efforts to economic construction," said Kim.
"It is a matter of fact that we badly need an external environment favorable for economic construction," he said. "But, we cannot sell off our dignity just in a hope for brilliant transformation – the dignity which we have defended as valuable as our own life. This is our steadfast position."
He said DPRK was still being threatened by military hardware like stealth fighters being used on the Korean Peninsula and "nuclear strike means of all kinds are directly aimed at the DPRK."
"Genuine peace can only be safeguarded when one possesses the absolute strength to prevent war itself," Kim said. "As we have obtained the reliable and effective war deterrent for self-defence by tightening our belts, peace and security of the Korean Peninsula and the region are now firmly defended."
Independent UN sanctions monitors reported to the UN Security Council in August that DPRK was pressing on with its nuclear weapons program and several countries believe it has "probably developed miniaturised nuclear devices to fit into the warheads of its ballistic missiles."
Jenny Town, a Stimson Center fellow and deputy director of 38 North, said that in the envoy's speech "there were no overt threats or hints of shows of force or demonstrations of power in the near future. It was very focused on rebuilding and recovering the internal situation."
DPRK leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump have met three times since 2018, but failed to make progress on US calls for Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons and DPRK's demands for an end to sanctions.
Meanwhile in Pyongyang, Kim presided over a Politburo meeting Tuesday on the country's battle against the pandemic, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Wednesday, reports Xinhua.
Participants in the meeting pointed out some faults found in the country's virus prevention strategy, and also discussed a campaign for recovering from natural disasters.
With Xinhua inputs
HONG KONG NEWS