Amid growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea has told the United Nations that it will not negotiate the dismantling of its nuclear weapons unless the US reversed its "hostile" policy.
North Korean Deputy UN Ambassador Kim In-ryong told the UN General Assembly's committee on disarmament on Monday that the situation on the Korean Peninsula "has reached the touch-and-go point and a nuclear war may break out any moment."
"Unless the hostile policy and the nuclear threat of the US [are] thoroughly eradicated, we will never put our nuclear weapons and ballistic rockets on the negotiation table under any circumstance," the diplomat said.
Kim also stressed that his country "had passed the final gate" toward becoming a full-fledged nuclear power, with the means to deliver a nuclear strike.
"The entire US mainland is within our firing range and if the US dares to invade our sacred territory, even an inch, it will not escape our severe punishment in any part of the globe."
Elsewhere in his remarks, the North Korean diplomat said that Pyongyang would not target countries that are not part of the US-led military campaign.
"As long as one does not take part in the US military actions against the DPRK (North Korea), we have no intention to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against any other country,” he said.
The remarks come weeks after US President Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if necessary.
Trump, who had formerly threatened Pyongyang with “fire and the fury like the world has never seen,” renewed the threat at the UN last month, saying, “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”
Trump also engaged in an escalating war of words with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, trading personal insults.
Trump called the North Korean leader a “rocket man” who is “on a suicide mission.”
But US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday that Trump wanted to avoid war.
"He's not seeking to go to war," Tillerson told CNN, adding that efforts would "continue until the first bomb drops."
Efforts by Tillerson come even though Trump said on Twitter that Tillerson was "wasting his time" with negotiations on North Korea.
On Monday, South Korea and the United States kicked off week-long war games in the waters around the Korean Peninsula.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula have risen sharply in recent weeks following a series of weapons tests by Pyongyang, including its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3 and two missiles launched over Japan.
The international community has pressed Pyongyang to abandon its missiles and nuclear weapons development programs.
Pyongyang, however, insists its weapons are of defensive nature, acting as a deterrent against potential foreign aggression.
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