The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must take immediate steps to resume dialogue, cease its provocative actions and fully comply with its international obligations, a United Nations senior official stressed, as she briefed the Security Council today and urged the 15-nation organ to address, as a united body, another launch by Pyongyang of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said that according to Pyongyang’s official news agency and various Government sources, at around 10:15 a.m. local time on 18 November, that country test-fired what it described as a new-type intercontinental ballistic missile, named the Hwasong-17. It is critical to de-escalate tensions and enhance communication channels, she stressed, urging that country to resume dialogue for the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula
“This is the tenth time the Council has met to discuss the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 2022, yet the situation on the Korean Peninsula continues to head in the wrong direction,” she observed, underscoring that the repeated missile launches, confrontational rhetoric and military exercises contribute to a negative action-reaction cycle. Pointing out that unity in the Council is critical and a diplomatic solution is the only way forward, she said the Council must join together, as a united body as well as individually, to urge the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to refrain from carrying out further launches using ballistic missile technology, or a seventh nuclear test.
In the ensuing debate, many Council members deplored the lack of unity in the 15-member organ, emphasizing that its inaction only emboldens the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to do more of the same with impunity. Several delegations urged Pyongyang to focus on the humanitarian needs of its people rather than its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, while others called for the United States’ return to dialogue and cautioned against further sanctions.
The representative of the United States said her country is prepared to meet without preconditions and engage in serious negotiation. However, for too long Pyongyang has acted with impunity, without fear of response or reprisal, emboldened by two veto-wielding members of the Council whose “blatant obstructionism” puts the region and the entire world at risk. The United States will be proposing a presidential statement, she said, encouraging all to join in condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and calling on it to curb its unlawful ballistic missile advancement.
France’s representative urged Pyongyang to stop diverting the country’s scant resources towards financing its proliferation programmes to the detriment of its people’s needs. Yet Council inaction has offered the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea a “shield” behind which it can continue its provocations. The recent launches demand a united, responsible and resolute response from the international community. Further, that country has relentlessly circumvented sanctions by all possible means. Thus, lightening sanctions would be “entirely illogical”. Such measures must be maintained and, in some cases, strengthened.
However, Brazil’s representative pointed out that all of Pyongyang’s intercontinental missile capabilities were developed while it was already one of the most sanctioned countries in the world. Resolution 2397 (2017) — the most recent Council action on this issue — introduced some of the harshest sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, including bans on food and agricultural exports. “None of these has prevented the prodigious quantity and qualitative expansion of North Korea’s arsenal for the past five years,” he emphasized. Stressing the need for new and better tools to enable the Council to reduce the threat to peace and security, he urged the 15 nations to speak with one voice and bridge gaps between positions.
China’s representative, noting the long-standing stalemate on the issue, said the United States should put forward realistic and feasible proposals and respond positively to the legitimate concerns of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The draft resolution jointly sponsored by his country and the Russian Federation will help mitigate the humanitarian situation in the country, create an atmosphere for dialogue and promote the realization of a political settlement, he emphasized, voicing hope that all parties will positively consider it.
The representative of the Russian Federation said Pyongyang’s actions are the result of the United States’ short-sighted confrontational military activity. Moreover, the Council could not find the strength to facilitate détente due to the United States’ position. Going forward, United Nations mechanisms, particularly the Council, should be leveraged to support inter-Korean dialogue and multilateral negotiations, she said, warning that further sanctions will threaten the citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with socioeconomic and human upheaval.
However, the representative of the Republic of Korea disagreed, stressing that all Member States, especially Council members, must fully implement all existing Council sanctions. Since the Council’s failure to adopt a resolution in May, due to the opposition of two permanent members, Pyongyang has launched 40 ballistic missiles and promulgated a new law on nuclear weapons policy, setting the threshold for using nuclear weapons far lower than any other country. Calling for the Council’s robust and united response, he further urged all members to support the swift adoption of the draft presidential statement proposed by the United States.
Japan’s representative weighed in as well, stressing: “It is outrageous to allow North Korea to take hostage the entire international community.” The recently launched intercontinental ballistic missile could travel up to 15,000 kilometres, potentially threatening all of Asia, Europe, North America, Africa and part of South America with nuclear warheads. The Council must prevent a “nuclear North Korea” with ballistic missile capabilities, and reaffirm its commitment to that goal regardless of members’ bilateral relations with the country. He urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to immediately comply with all relevant resolutions and engage in diplomacy towards denuclearization.
Also speaking were representatives of Albania, Ireland, Norway, United Kingdom, Gabon, Mexico, India, Kenya, United Arab Emirates and Ghana.
The meeting began at 10:03 a.m. and ended at 11:18 a.m.