SEOUL  - UN chief Ban Ki-moon renewed an appeal Monday for global nuclear disarmament, with a special plea to North Korea to divert its scant resources from nuclear weapons to improving living standards. “Some say nuclear disarmament is utopian... I say the illusion is that nuclear weapons provide security,” Ban said in Seoul where he was accepting a peace prize from his home country. Stressing the inability of nuclear weapons to defend against the threats of crime, terror and disease, the secretary general argued that their inherently “destabilising” presence was unwarranted in the post-Cold War era. “How, then, do we explain that... amidst a global financial crisis, the nuclear-weapon states seem intent on modernising their arsenals for decades to come? And more broadly, how can we justify global military spending that last year was twice as much in a day as the UN spent on all its activities the whole year?” he said. Describing the situation on the Korean peninsula as “one of the most challenging in the world”, Ban challenged Pyongyang’s pursuit of nuclear weaponry at a time when its people suffered “alarming” rates of malnutrition. “I look forward to the day when (North Korea) moves to heed the call for denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, and for improving the lives of its people through respect for universal values and human rights,” he said.