UN focuses on human rights in N.Korea

Some members of the UN Security Council say they are gravely concerned about the human rights situation in North Korea. They say the North is sacrificing the well-being of its own people in favor of its ballistic missile program.

Delegates held a meeting on Friday. Pyongyang this week launched missiles that flew over the Sea of Japan.

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said more than 80,000 North Koreans are in prison camps, where they are subjected to forced labor and torture. She added that the North is choosing to pursue the missile program at the expense of its people. And she said the barrage of recent launches should prompt the UN to take action in the coming days.

Thomas-Greenfield said, "The Security Council needs to have an open meeting in which we condemn these tests, and we condemn them roundly and with a strong unified voice. We have not been able to do that since 2017."

In an apparent reference to China and Russia, she accused "two members" of blocking the Council from addressing the issue unanimously.

Chinese diplomats shot back. They said Friday's meeting, co-hosted by the US, was "not constructive in any way."

The meeting was also sponsored by Japan and South Korea, which have unresolved cases of human rights violations. These include incidents in which nationals of the two countries were abducted to North Korea.

The Japanese government says at least 17 of its citizens were abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s. Five returned in 2002, but the other 12 remain unaccounted for.

Thomas-Greenfield said she wants to work with Japan and South Korea to "ramp up the pressure" on Pyongyang over the cases.