UNITED NATIONS (AP) — North Korea has denounced a U.N. Security Council statement condemning its four latest ballistic missile launches, calling it "a hostile act" perpetrated by the United States and warning that it could precipitate America's "self-destruction."
A Foreign Ministry statement sent to U.N. correspondents on Monday also warned that North Korea "has substantial means capable of reducing aggression troops in the U.S. mainland and the operational theater in the Pacific to ashes in a moment."
A press statement approved Friday night by all 15 Security Council members, including North Korea's ally China, called the four launches in July and August "grave violations" of a ban on all ballistic missile activity.
The council expressed "serious concern" that North Korea had carried out the launches after six ballistic missile firings between April and June, "in flagrant disregard" of the council's repeated demands to halt all missile launches and nuclear tests which violate U.N. resolutions.
North Korea's Foreign Ministry accused the United States of instigating the statement and "abusing" the Security Council, to deter the country's "legitimate right to self-defense."
The ministry called the council statement "a reckless provocation harassing peace and stability on the Korean peninsula."
It accused the Security Council of deliberately disregarding a complaint sent by the North Korean government about U.S.-South Korean military exercises currently underway. North Korea has threatened retaliation for these exercises, which it views as a rehearsal for invasion by the U.S. and other adversaries.
"This is an illegal action taken by the world body to side with the U.S. in the acute standoff between the DPRK and the U.S. without an iota of impartiality," the ministry said, using the initials of the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
North Korea singled out the council's condemnation of the latest submarine launch of a ballistic missile on Aug. 24, days after the U.S. and South Korea began their annual military exercises.
North Korea usually responds to the annual South Korea-U.S. military drills with weapons tests and fiery warlike rhetoric
South Korean officials said the missile flew about 500 kilometers (310 miles), the longest distance achieved by the North for such a weapon. That means all of South Korea, and possibly parts of Japan, are within its striking distance.
The Foreign Ministry recalled its warning to the U.S. of military action if it criticized the submarine missile launch and "enraged people of the DPRK."
"Now that the U.S. posed threats to the dignity and the right to existence of the DPRK defying its serious warning, it will continue to take a series of eventful action steps as a full-fledged military power," the statement said.
Acquiring the ability to launch missiles from submarines would be an alarming development because missiles fired from submerged vessels are harder to detect in advance. U.S. Strategic Command said last week that the latest North Korean missile launch did not pose a threat to North America but that the U.S. military "remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations."
North Korea's missile and nuclear weapons development programs have brought heavy international sanctions down on its head, but Pyongyang says they are justified because of the threat posed by the U.S. and South Korea.