North Korea Affirms 'Right to Self-Defense' at U.N. Amid Reports of New Missile Launch

North Korea's envoy to the United Nations has declared its country's right to develop, possess and test new weapons amid reports that the nuclear-armed state launched another projectile into the sea.

The South Korean military Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed on Monday, early Tuesday local time, that the firing of a yet another unidentified projectile from North Korea, officially known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), eastward toward the sea had been detected, according to Yonhap News Agency.

A South Korea National Defense Ministry spokesperson later confirmed the report to Newsweek.

"Our military detected a projectile which was fired from Moopyonri area, Jagang province in NK to east, 6:40 today and it was assumed a short range missile," the spokesperson said. "ROK and U.S. intelligence authority is analyzing the missile closely in consideration of detected data."

The Japanese Defense Ministry also noted in a statement that "a potential ballistic missile was launched from North Korea."

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command weighed in as well.

"We are aware of the missile launch and are consulting closely with our allies and partners," INDOPACOM said in a statement sent to Newsweek. "While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to our allies, the missile launch highlights the destabilizing impact of the DPRK's illicit weapons program. The U.S. commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remains ironclad."

The launch would be the third such test in recent weeks as Pyongyang officials protested U.S. and South Korea's decision last month to hold joint military exercises and South Korea moved to develop new missile capabilities of its own. Shortly after news of the suspected North Korean test broke, North Korean permanent representative to the U.N. Kim Song defended such activities during his scheduled remarks at the General Assembly in New York.

"Given that the U.S. and South Korean military alliance increased military threats against the DPRK, nobody can deny the righteous right self-defense for the DPRK to develop, test, manufacture and produce the weapon systems equivalent to the ones which are possessed or being developed by them," Kim Song said.

As such, he dismissed the current U.N. Security Council restrictions that ban North Korea from conducting missile tests.

"The U.N. Security Council does not say a single word about the reckless arms buildup and war criminal actions by specific countries such as the US and its foreign forces," Kim Song said. "It instead that finds fault with the just self-defense measures of the DPRK at every chance."

"This is tell-tale evidence," he argued, "that the U.N. does represent the interests of the broader spectrum of the international community but rather degenerates into a small room for a privileged few."

North, Korea, UN, ambassador, Kim, Song
North Korean permanent representative to the United Nations Kim Song addresses the U.N. General Assembly in New York on September 27. United Nations TV

He suggested amending the rules of the 193-member international body to allow an overwhelming majority to reject U.N. Security Council resolutions. Currently, only permanent members China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the U.S. have veto privilege and the remaining seats on the 15-member council are rotated on a regional basis for a term of two years.

North Korea is one of approximately 66 modern nations to have never served a term on the U.N. Security Council.

Instead, it has been frequently targeted by resolutions, including a demand to end its 1950 attack on South Korea, one of the earliest measures taken by the council. With the Soviet Union boycotting the U.N. due to its decision at the time to recognize Taiwan rather than the newly formed People's Republic of China, the U.N. Security Council greenlit an international coalition led by Washington to back South Korea against North Korea, which received support from Beijing and Moscow.

As Kim Song recalled on Monday, the war has yet to officially end, even though outright hostilities ended with a 1953 armistice and the Cold War would come to close with the collapse of the Soviet Union nearly 40 years later.

"Three decades have passed since the end of the Cold War, but the Korean Peninsula is still in a vicious cycle of ever-looming aggravation of tensions and confrontation," Kim Song said. "Its main root cause lies in the hostile policy towards the DPRK."

He argued such a policy on the part of the U.S. dated back to North Korea's very foundation, and credited his nation's growing arsenal with preventing U.S. intervention.

"The international community should not overlook one fact: the DPRK-U.S. relations are not merely the relations of friendly relations between countries without diplomatic relations but between two belligerent countries that are legally in a state of war," Kim Song said. "The possible outbreak of a second war in the Korean Peninsula is contained not because the U.S.' mercy upon the DPRK, it is because our state is growing a reliable deterrent that can control the hostile forces in their attempts for military invasion."

North Korea tested its first nuclear weapon in 2006 and has since tested five more, the most recent and most powerful of which occurred in September 2017. That same year, North Korea conducted its first intercontinental ballistic missile tests and declared its ability to fit such weapons with nuclear warheads.

In 2018, however, Pyongyang underwent a historic warming of relations with both Seoul Washington as North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un held summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and then-U.S. President Donald Trump. An ambitious push among three powers to achieve peace and sanctions relief in exchange for North Korea abandoning nuclear weapons ultimately unraveled, however, and Trump's successor, President Joe Biden, would inherit a tense state of affairs earlier this year.

North Korea has so far largely snubbed U.S. efforts to make contact, calling on the Biden administration to first end its "hostile policy" before any dialogue could begin.

"The U.S. is still ignoring the reality that the Korean War has not ended for over 70 years," Kim Song said Monday at the U.N. "If the U.S. wants to see the Korean War, the most prolonged and long-lasting war in the world come to an end, and if it is really desirous of peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula, it should take the first step towards a giving up it's a hostile policy against the DPRK by stopping permanently the joint military exercises and the deployment of all kinds of strategic weapons, which are leveled at the DPRK in and around the Korean peninsula."

If progess was made in this direction, he said Washington and Pyongyang may again start to get along, as would the two Koreas.

"I'm convinced that a good prospect will be open for U.S.-DPRK relations and inter-Korean relations if the US refrains from threatening the DPRK and keeps up its hostile hostility towards it," Kim Song said.

His address and the alleged launch that barely preceded it come three days after Kim Yo Jong, vice department director of the ruling Korean Workers' Party Central Committee and sister of Kim Jong Un, commented on Moon's own address to the U.N. General Assembly.

She referred to Moon's call to declare an end to the Korean War "an interesting and an admirable idea." But she said that "respect for each other should be maintained and prejudiced viewpoint, inveterate hostile policy and unequal double standards must be removed first" before such a policy could be considered.

"What needs to be dropped is the double-dealing attitudes, illogical prejudice, bad habits and hostile stand of justifying their own acts while faulting our just exercise of the right to self-defence," Kim Yo Jong said in her statement Monday.

"Only when such a precondition is met," she added, "would it be possible to sit face to face and declare the significant termination of war and discuss the issue of the north-south relations and the future of the Korean peninsula."

North, Korea, railway, train, missile, launch
The Korean People's Army Railway Mobile Missile Regiment launches a train-based ballistic missile in images released September 15 local time by North Korea's state-run media. The test, the second North Korean launch in several days, was said to have been overseen by General Pak Jong Chon, a member of the elite Korean Workers' Party Presidium. Korean Central News Agency