N Korea slams UN nuclear agency as ‘marionette’ of West

UNITED NATIONS, UNITED STATES (AFP) – North Korea has accused the United Nations (UN) agency responsible for regulating atomic energy of being a puppet of hostile countries after a new report said the isolated nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile was breaking international law.

Pyongyang has gradually built an atomic stockpile after abandoning the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Wednesday that Pyongyang’s weapons programme was “deeply regrettable”.

North Korea’s nuclear activities “remain a cause for serious concern”, said the agency’s Chief Rafael Mariano Grossi in a report to the United Nations General Assembly.

Pyongyang’s ambassador to the UN hit back later in the same forum, telling other diplomats that the IAEA’s report was “grossly distorted”.

“The IAEA is no more than a political tool of the Western countries,” he said, adding that the body was “a marionette dancing to the tune of the hostile forces” against North Korea.

Nuclear talks between North Korea and the United States (US) have been deadlocked since the collapse of a summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and then US President Donald Trump in Hanoi early last year.

North Korea is widely believed to have continued to develop its arsenal – which it said it needs to protect itself from a US invasion – throughout the discussions.