UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres has committed to a fully denuclearised North Korea despite a split in the Security Council that has made room for the country to expand its nuclear weapon programme.
On Friday, Mr Guterres met South Korean president Yoon Suk Yeol in Seoul and said the UN has a “clear commitment to the full, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea]”.
“There’s a fundamental objective to bring peace, security and stability to the whole region,” he added.
In May, China and Russia vetoed a UN resolution sponsored by the US that would have imposed tough new sanctions on North Korea for its spate of intercontinental ballistic missile launches that can be used to deliver nuclear weapons.
The 13-2 vote in the Security Council marked a serious division among the five permanent members of the UN who have veto powers on sanctioning North Korea.
On Friday, the UN secretary-general also met South Korea’s foreign minster Park Jin.
Mr Park said the UN-led international community should communicate a stern and unified message to North Korea that its nuclear ambitions won’t be tolerated.
North Korea has test fired more than 30 ballistic missiles this year as leader Kim Jong-un pushes ahead with building his country’s nuclear arsenal in the face of what he refers to as “gangster-like” actions by the US.
Last month, while speaking at the 69th anniversary of the Korean War armistice, Mr Kim warned said North Korea was ready to launch its nuclear war deterrent and fight back.
“Our armed forces are thoroughly prepared to respond to any crisis, and our nation’s nuclear war deterrence is also fully ready to mobilise its absolute strength faithfully, accurately and promptly to its mission,” he said.
He added: “I once again make it clear that North Korea is fully ready for any military confrontation with the United States”.
(Addition reporting by agencies)