FURIOUS officials in North Korea stepped up their threatening rhetoric in the wake of the Sony hacking row, calling the US mainland “the cesspool of terrorism” and warning that they are targeting its “citadels”.
The Stalinist regime’s rage over the Seth Rogen film The Interview about a plot to assassinate the leader, Kim Jong-Un, continues to boil.
After the FBI’s assertion North Korea was responsible for a hack into Sony’s computer systems, Kim’s officials are still denying involvement. “Our toughest counteraction will be boldly taken against the White House, the Pentagon and the whole US mainland, the cesspool of terrorism,” a statement in North Korean state media said yesterday.
On Saturday, it said the US accusations were “an attempt to frame us for this crime” and suggested the two nations work together to investigate the hacking. However, the regime refused to take part in a groundbreaking UN Security Council meeting yesterday where their bleak human rights record was to be discussed for the first time. International pressure has built this year on Pyongyang after a sprawling UN-backed inquiry of alleged crimes against humanity and warned Kim Jong-Un could be held accountable. The 15-member council has been urged to refer North Korea’s human rights situation to the International Criminal Court, seen as a court of last resort for atrocities. It is the boldest effort yet to confront Pyongyang over an issue it has openly dismissed in the past.
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North Korea said it would not attend yesterday’s meeting and accused the US and its allies of using the human rights issue as a weapon to overthrow the leadership of the impoverished but nuclear-armed nation. It also calls the dozens of people who fled the country and aided the commission “human scum”.
If the council takes any action, “maybe we will take necessary measures,” diplomat Kim Song said on Friday.
The regime sent a sharp warning to the UN last month, threatening further nuclear tests, after the organisation’s General Assembly human rights committee voted to move the issue to the security council, which can take binding actions on matters of international peace and security.
The council has had North Korea’s nuclear program on its agenda for years, but yesterday’s meeting opens the door to wider discussion of abuses alleged in the recent inquiry, including starvation and a harsh political prison camp system of up to 120,000 inmates. Pyongyang rejects the inquiry’s findings but never allowed it into the country.
Two-thirds of the security council this month requested North Korea’s human rights situation be placed on the agenda, saying violations “threaten to have a destabilising impact on the region”.
China and its veto power as a permanent council member could block any action against its traditional but troublesome ally, but the mere threat of damage to Kim Jong-Un’s image has outraged his government.
Sony’s cancellation last week, however, of the Christmas Day release of The Interview, set off alarm bells among some diplomats and industry figures who warned of setting a precedent.
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