N.Korea faces criticism as it takes helm of UN-backed Conference on Disarmament

Nearly 50 countries criticized North Korea for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs as it helmed a session of the UN-backed Conference on Disarmament.

North Korea took over the rotating presidency of the 65-member Conference on Disarmament for the first time in 11 years.

Australian Ambassador Amanda Gorely delivered a statement on behalf of 48 countries and the European Union during a session at the UN's European headquarters in Geneva on Thursday.

She said the parties to the statement, including the Group of Seven nations, "remain gravely concerned" about North Korea's "reckless actions, which continue to seriously undermine the very value" of the body.

Japanese representative Umetsu Shigeru said North Korea is further aggravating its already dire humanitarian situation by diverting resources to the development of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles.

North Korea's Ambassador Han Tae Song said though he should refrain from expressing his view as president of the conference, he could not remain silent as the statement targeted not only him but his country. He added no country has the right to criticize or interfere in another's national policy.

Nations, such as China and Russia, expressed support for North Korea's presidency. No substantive discussions took place.

Han told NHK after the session he was not surprised by the statement as it represented a claim repeated at international gatherings by Western countries, which have different ideas and systems from those of North Korea.