North Korea skipping UN Security Council meeting

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North Korea Under Scrutiny

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- An angry North Korea, now on the defensive over a U.S. accusation of hacking, is refusing to take part in a groundbreaking U.N. Security Council meeting Monday where the country's bleak human rights situation will be discussed for the first time.

International pressure has built this year on Pyongyang after a sprawling U.N.-backed inquiry of alleged crimes against humanity and warned that young leader Kim Jong Un could be held accountable. And attention has focused on the North in recent days, as the Obama administration on Friday blamed it for the devastating hacking attack on Sony over the film "The Interview," which portrays Kim's assassination.

Now the 15-member Security Council is being urged to refer North Korea's human rights situation to the International Criminal Court, seen as a court of last resort for atrocities. It's the boldest effort yet to confront Pyongyang over an issue it has openly disdained in the past.

Instead of a showdown, North Korea says it will not attend Monday's meeting. It accuses the United States and its allies of using the human rights issue as a weapon to overthrow the leadership of the impoverished but nuclear-armed nation. It also calls the dozens of people who fled the North and aided the commission of inquiry "human scum."

If the council takes any action, "maybe we will take necessary measures," diplomat Kim Song told The Associated Press on Friday. He did not give details.

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North Korea skipping UN Security Council meeting
In this July 27, 2013 file photo, North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un waves to spectators and participants of a mass military parade celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice in Pyongyang, North Korea. If the U.S. government's claim that North Korea was involved in the unprecedented hack attack on Sony Pictures that scuttled Seth Rogen's latest comedy is correct, no one can say they weren'€™t warned. The movie, €œThe Interview,€ pushed all of North Korea's buttons. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E, File)
Security Council members vote for tough new sanctions against North Korea for its latest nuclear test, during a meeting at U.N. headquarters Thursday, March 7, 2013. The unanimous vote by the U.N.'s most powerful body sparked a furious Pyongyang to threaten a nuclear strike against the United States. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Soldiers and citizens rally at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, to protest a United Nations resolution condemning their country's human rights record Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014. Protesters at the rally Tuesday on the square carried banners praising their leaders and condemning the United States. The banner in the center reads: "Let’s defend with our lives the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea headed by supreme leader Kim Jong Un." (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)
North Korean army officers and soldiers attend a rally at Kim Il Sung Square on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, in Pyongyang, North Korea, in celebration of the country's recent nuclear test. The U.N. Security Council condemned North Korea's decision to conduct a third underground nuclear test earlier in the week in defiance of resolutions banning nuclear and missile activity. The writing reads "We warmly congratulate the 3rd successful underground nuclear test." (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)
North Korean soldiers stand near portraits of former North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il while attending a rally at Kim Il Sung Square on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, in Pyongyang, North Korea, in celebration of the country's recent nuclear test. The U.N. Security Council condemned North Korea's decision to conduct a third underground nuclear test earlier in the week in defiance of resolutions banning nuclear and missile activity. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)
North Korean army officers and soldiers attend a rally at Kim Il Sung Square on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, in Pyongyang, North Korea, in celebration of the country's recent nuclear test. The U.N. Security Council condemned North Korea's decision to conduct a third underground nuclear test earlier in the week in defiance of resolutions banning nuclear and missile activity. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)
A conductor guides a band as they practice a song before the start of a rally at Kim Il Sung Square on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, in Pyongyang, North Korea, in celebration of the country's recent nuclear test. The U.N. Security Council condemned North Korea's decision to conduct a third underground nuclear test earlier in the week in defiance of resolutions banning nuclear and missile activity. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)
Large screen monitors broadcast the recorded votes on a draft proposal during a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly human rights committee, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014. The committee approved a resolution that urges the Security Council to refer North Korea's harsh human rights situation to the International Criminal Court. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Large screen monitors broadcast Choe Myong Nam, North Korea's official in charge of U.N. affairs and human rights, as he speaks during a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly human rights committee, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014. The committee approved a resolution that urges the Security Council to refer the country's harsh human rights situation to the International Criminal Court. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
FILE - In this Dec. 12, 2012 file photo released by Korean Central News Agency, North Korea's Unha-3 rocket lifts off from the Sohae launch pad in Tongchang-ri, North Korea. The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 unanimously approved a resolution condemning North Korea's rocket launch in December and imposing new sanctions on Pyongyang's space agency. (AP Photo/KCNA, File)
North Koreans gather at the Kim Il Sung Square, some bowing towards portraits of their late leader Kim Jong Il, as an act of respect, to mark the third anniversary of his death, Wednesday Dec. 17, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea marked the end of a three-year mourning period for the late leader Kim Jong Il on Wednesday, opening the way for his son, Kim Jong Un, to put a more personal stamp on the way the country is run. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)
North Koreans gather in front of a portrait of their late leader Kim Il Sung, left, and Kim Jong Il, right, paying respects to their late leader Kim Jong Il, to mark the third anniversary of his death, Wednesday Dec. 17, 2014 at Pyong Chon District in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea marked the end of a three-year mourning period for the late leader Kim Jong Il on Wednesday, opening the way for his son, Kim Jong Un, to put a more personal stamp on the way the country is run. (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)
Choe Myong Nam, second from left, North Korea's official in charge of U.N. affairs and human rights, and other delegates watch the recorded votes on a draft proposal during a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly human rights committee, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014. The committee approved a resolution that urges the Security Council to refer North Korea's harsh human rights situation to the International Criminal Court. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Choe Myong Nam, North Korea's official in charge of U.N. affairs and human rights, leaves after a draft resolution vote in the U.N. General Assembly human rights committee, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014. The committee approved a resolution that urges the Security Council to refer North Korea's harsh human rights situation to the International Criminal Court. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
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North Korea already sent a sharp warning last month, threatening further nuclear tests after the U.N. General Assembly's human rights committee voted to move the issue toward the Security Council, which can take binding actions on matters of international peace and security.

The council has had North Korea's nuclear program on its agenda for years, but Monday's meeting opens the door to wider discussion of abuses alleged in the recent inquiry, including starvation and a harsh political prison camp system of up to 120,000 inmates. Pyongyang rejects the inquiry's findings but never allowed it into the country.

Two-thirds of the Security Council this month formally requested that North Korea's human rights situation be placed on the agenda for ongoing debate, saying rights violations "threaten to have a destabilizing impact on the region."

China and its veto power as a permanent council member could block any action against its traditional but troublesome ally, but the mere threat of damage to Kim Jong Un's image has outraged the North Korean government.

Such fury is thought to be behind the Sony hacking. North Korea has denied the attack but has suggested it was a "righteous deed" carried out by sympathizers.

Sony last week cancelled the Christmas Day release of "The Interview," setting off alarm among some diplomats and entertainment figures who warned of setting a precedent for backing down in the face of future threats. The hacking is expected to be discussed in Monday's meeting.

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