UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Britain's U.N. envoy on Wednesday rejected a suggestion from China that military drills by the United States and South Korea were creating international threats along the same lines as North Korea's nuclear and missile tests.
The United Nations Security Council met on Wednesday behind closed doors to discuss North Korea's launch of four ballistic missiles on Monday in response to the joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises, which it regards as preparation for war.
"The exercises by the United States and the Republic of Korea ... are defending against threats to international peace and security," British U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said on his way into the meeting of the 15-member council.
"The threat comes from DPRK (North Korea) and the continued plan to nuclearize the DPRK and it is that program of nuclearization that needs to stop immediately," he said.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said earlier on Wednesday that the tests by the North and the joint drills across the border in South Korea were causing tension to increase like two "accelerating trains coming toward each other," suggesting a "dual suspension" to allow all sides to return to negotiations.
North Korea fired the missiles into the sea off Japan's coast, angering South Korea and Japan with the latest in a series of ballistic missile and nuclear tests in defiance of U.N. resolutions in recent months.
"We are not doing anything to provoke them so we are in a very strong position to tell them that this is totally unacceptable," Japan's U.N. Ambassador Koro Bessho told reporters before the council meeting.
The Security Council strongly condemned North Korea's missile launches and expressed concern over the country's increasingly destabilizing behavior.
North Korea has been under U.N. sanctions and an arms embargo aimed at impeding the development of its banned nuclear and missile programs since 2006. The council has strengthened sanctions following each of Pyongyang's five nuclear tests.
"The most important thing is to implement those Security Council resolutions in a comprehensive way, including reducing tensions and also not to do anything to exacerbate tension on the Korean Peninsula," China's U.N. Ambassador Liu Jieyi said.
The U.S. military on Tuesday started to deploy the first elements of its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system to South Korea, which China opposes.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Alistair Bell)