North Korea threatens nuke arms race
New York - North Korea said on Wednesday, ahead of landmark talks with the United States, that a US missile defence shield will set off a new nuclear arms race.
The target of the shield is "the gaining of absolute nuclear superiority and global hegemony over the other nuclear power rivals," North Korea's UN ambassador Sin Son Ho told a UN debate on nuclear disarmament.
North Korea and the United States are to hold two days of talks in New York from Thursday on issues including the North's nuclear arsenal. However the UN envoy said the shield showed the United States has no "moral justifications" to lecture other countries about proliferation.
"In this current changing world, one can easily understand that this dangerous move will eventually spark a new nuclear arms race," Sin said.
"This shows that the world's largest nuclear weapon state has lost its legal or moral justifications to talk of proliferation issues before international society, on whatever ground," the envoy added.
The Stalinist state's UN envoy said recent developments such as the shield had cast "dark shadows" over prospects for nuclear disarmament and weapon modernisation programmes had been launched that resemble the "Cold War period".
Vice foreign minister Kim Kye-Gwan is leading the North's delegation at the New York talks.
Kim and US North Korean envoy Stephen Bosworth are expected to discuss improving US-North Korean ties and ways to relaunch six-nation talks on the North giving up its nuclear weapons.
Talks between North Korea and the United States, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia have been frozen since December 2008.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the New York talks on Sunday, two days after the nuclear envoys of South and North Korea held a surprise meeting on the sidelines of an Asian security conference in Bali, Indonesia.
In Washington, State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said North Korea's meeting with the South in Bali was "constructive" but that the communist state needed to do more.
"What we're looking for is in our mind a clear indication that North Korea is serious about moving forward," Toner told reporters.
The United States will be watching to see if North Korea will recommit to a 2005 agreement at the six-way talks "as well as take concrete and irreversible steps towards denuclearisation."