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Seoul envoy lambasts N.Korea satellite launch as 'one of the most expensive fireworks'

June 1, 2024 - 15:07 By Yonhap
South Korea's top envoy to the United Nations Hwang Joon-kook addresses members of the United Nations Security Council during a meeting held at the UN headquarters in New York, United States, Wednesday. (Reuters-Yonhap)

South Korea's top envoy to the UN denounced North Korea's failed satellite launch this week as "one of the most expensive fireworks" on Friday, stressing that it has used its scarce resources for the launch despite persistent food shortages.

Ambassador Hwang Joon-kook made the remarks as the UN Security Council (UNSC) held an open meeting to discuss the North's launch of the satellite on Monday, which Seoul, Washington and others criticized as a violation of UNSC resolutions banning any launch using ballistic missile technology.

"The launch is one of the most expensive fireworks," Hwang said. "The DPRK dissipated its scarce resources into that launch, which could have been better spent on feeding its people."

DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Hwang highlighted that North Korean leaders are enjoying luxury goods and showing off their military arsenal "at the cost of the people who suffer from chronic food shortages."

"The DPRK has no one to blame but itself for its own humanitarian crisis," he said. "It is estimated that the cost of launching a so-called 'satellite' is equivalent to almost several months' worth of food for the entire population of the DPRK."

Robert Wood, the deputy US ambassador to the UN, struck the same note.

"The DPRK's dire humanitarian situation is of the country's own making," he said.

"(North Korean leader) Kim Jong-un could alleviate his people's suffering immediately by allowing international aid organizations to re-enter the country and by investing in his people's well-being instead of his unlawful weapons programs."

Wood reiterated that any North Korean launch using ballistic missile technology is a "flagrant" violation of UNSC resolutions regardless of whether it is successful or not.

"Each launch informs the DPRK of its capability gaps and allows Pyongyang to further advance its weapons programs," he said "This council has the responsibility to condemn these launches and to hold the DPRK accountable for its violations."

In addition, he pointed out that China and Russia continue to block the UNSC from "speaking against the DPRK's behavior with one voice and makes us all less safe."

Following the North's satellite launch, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned it and called on the recalcitrant regime to return to dialogue. (Yonhap)