‘Don’t join any US action and you’re safe’

NEW YORK: North Korea warned members of the United Nations on Monday in a statement: Don't join the US in military action against the country and you will be safe from retaliation.

The caution was contained in a copy of North Korean deputy UN ambassador Kim In-Ryong's prepared remarks for a discussion on nuclear weapons by a UN General Assembly committee. However, he did not read that section out loud.

"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," according to Kim's prepared remarks.

"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," the statement read.

Tensions have soared between the US and North Korea following a series of weapons tests by Pyongyang and a string of increasingly bellicose exchanges between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

The North's state media said today the allies' "desperate efforts" to block the advance of the country would only vindicate that it should continue its nuclear program "to the last".

The UN Security Council has unanimously ratcheted up sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes since 2006.

In-Ryong did tell the General Assembly committee: "Unless the hostile policy and the nuclear threat of the US is thoroughly eradicated, we will never put our nuclear weapons and ballistic rockets on the negotiation table under any circumstance."

Meanwhile, US deputy secretary of state John J. Sullivan said today Washington is not ruling out the eventual possibility of direct talks with North Korea.

"Eventually, we don't rule out the possibility of course of direct talks," Sullivan said in Tokyo after talks with his Japanese counterpart.

"Our focus is on diplomacy to solve this problem that is presented by the DPRK. We must, however, with our allies Japan and South Korea and elsewhere, be prepared for the worst, should diplomacy fail."

Meanwhile, leaflets apparently from North Korea calling Trump a "mad dog" and depicting gruesome images of him have turned up across Seoul, adding an unusually personal element to the North's propaganda.

South Korea and the US began week-long joint Navy drills in the waters around the Korean peninsula on Monday, involving about 40 ships from both militaries, including the nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, the South's defence ministry said. – Reuters