– Eight predominantly Western countries have accused North Korea of using the pandemic “to further act on the human rights of its own people,” citing reports of increased executions linked to the coronavirus and tight controls on movement in and around the capital. Their remarks were read after the UN Security Council discussed North Korea’s human rights situation behind closed doors on Friday. Germany has sought open meetings but Russia and China, both North Korean neighbors, object. Seven council members – Germany, Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Britain and the United States – who joined Japan said in a statement that North Korea places nuclear power and military power over its people. The government’s decision “to prioritize its weapons program above the needs of its people and their isolation from the international community will inevitably exacerbate the impact of the pandemic on the North Korean population,” they said. North Korea closed its border with China, its biggest trading partner and aid provider, when the coronavirus began spreading in January. Kim Jong Un’s government said it had not found a single coronavirus case in its territory, a claim disputed by outside experts.