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(LEAD) N. Korea slams EU nations over statement condemning SLBM test

North Korea 17:05 October 10, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS background, more quotes, photo)
By Choi Soo-hyang

SEOUL, Oct. 10 (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Thursday lashed out at European Union members of the U.N. Security Council for issuing a statement condemning its recent test of a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), calling it a "grave provocation" against Pyongyang.

In a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, a spokesperson of the North's foreign ministry accused the United States of pushing the countries to sign the statement, warning that Pyongyang might reconsider the steps it has taken to build trust with Washington.

"Our patience has limits, and there is no law that what we have been restraining from will last indefinitely," the spokesperson said.

Following the North's missile launch last week, Britain, France, Germany, Poland, Belgium and Estonia issued the joint statement on Tuesday, urging Pyongyang to engage in "meaningful" denuclearization negotiations with the U.S.

Along with its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), the North's SLBM program is considered one of the biggest threats to the U.S. and its allies, as it could extend the range of the North's nuclear missiles. SLBMs are also hard to detect before they emerge from water.

The North's latest SLBM test came just days before it resumed working-level nuclear talks with the U.S. in Stockholm.

It was the two sides' first meeting since the collapse of the Hanoi summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in February. But the talks broke off again, with the North accusing the U.S. of failing to come up with a new proposal.

The ministry spokesperson said North Korea is "contemplating" the U.S.' intention of coming to the talks "empty-handed" and pushing its "followers" to issue such a statement criticizing the North.

"It is a grave provocation against us to take issue with such a fair move we take under the right to defend ourselves, while not saying a single word about the U.S.' recent Minuteman 3 ICBM launch," the statement said, adding that the U.S.' ICBM launch was apparently aimed at pressuring the North.

The spokesperson also hinted at the possibility of the North resuming its own nuclear or ICBM tests, saying the country could take a corresponding countermeasure against the U.S. ICBM launch, but is refraining from such a move.

Declaring the breakdown of the working-level talks Saturday, the North's top negotiator, Kim Myong-gil, said it depends entirely on Washington whether Pyongyang will continue its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and ICBM tests.

This photo released by North Korea's state media shows a missile being launched from waters off its east coast on Oct. 2, 2019. The North's Korean Central News Agency on Oct. 3 said that it successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile from waters off its east coast town of Wonsan the previous day. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

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