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US policy could set off nuclear war: N. Korea

UNITED NATIONS -- A North Korean minister lashed out at the United States on Monday, warning that its “hostile” policy has left the Korean Peninsula a spark away from a nuclear war.

Addressing the final session of the U.N. General Assembly's annual high-level meeting, Vice Foreign Minister Pak Kil Yon said the Koreas have become “the world's most dangerous hotspot” and pledged to use the North's “mighty” military deterrent against any “reckless provocations.”

“The only way to prevent war and ensure lasting peace on the Korean peninsula is to put an end to the U.S. hostile policy towards the DPRK,” he said, using the initials of the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The U.S. State Department had no comment on the speech.

Pak addressed the 193-member world body for the first time since the death in December of North Korea's longtime leader Kim Jong Il and the transfer of power to his son, Kim Jong Un. His speech gave some clues about the foreign policy approach of the new leader, whom Pak addressed as “our dear respected marshal.”

Pak said Kim is leading efforts to advance his father's economic development program with his own “insight into the world,” and is implementing an “independent foreign policy” and opening a new chapter in developing relations with friendly countries “not bound by the past.”

Much of his speech focused on North Korea's continuing state of war with the United States more than 60 years after the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice but no peace treaty. Pak said Pyongyang's view that from the day the country was founded Washington's intention has been “to destroy the ideas and system chosen by our people and to occupy the whole of the Korean peninsula and to use it as a stepping-stone for realizing its strategy of dominating the whole of Asia.”

Pak said the United States has finalized scenarios for a new Korean War and “is waiting for a chance to implement them” and impose military rule after an invasion.

The latest military drill in August involving more than 80,000 troops from the U.S., South Korea and seven countries that fought with them in the Korean War “drove the situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of war,” Pak said.

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