Non-proliferation/Democratic People's Republic of Korea - Security Council, 9004th meeting
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Non-proliferation/Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

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Speakers Strongly Condemn 24 March Launch of Intercontinental Ballistic Missile

The Security Council extended the mandate of the expert panel assisting the committee overseeing its sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea until 30 April 2023.

Members then held an emergency debate on that country’s launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles — on 27 February and 5 March — which the United Nations Political Affairs Chief denounced as a breach of multiple resolutions.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2627 (2022) under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, the Council decided that the mandate applies to measures imposed by its relevant resolutions adopted in 2016 and 2017 and overseen by the Sanctions Committee established pursuant to resolution 1718 (2006). It expressed its intent to review the mandate and take appropriate action regarding its further extension no later than 25 March 2023.

Underscoring that the Panel of Experts must carry out credible, fact-based, independent assessments, analysis and recommendations in an objective and impartial manner, the Council requested that the Panel provide the Sanctions Committee with a planned work programme no later than 30 days after the Panel’s reappointment. Members further requested that the Panel of Experts provide the Sanctions Committee with a midterm report no later than 3 August; a final report no later than 3 February 2023; and a final report no later than 3 March 2023.

Following the adoption, several delegates expressed concern about a leak of the Panel’s report before its public release.

The representative of the United States expressed hope that all parties will protect the report until it is publicly released and asked the Panel to deliver the incident report requested concerning the unlawful launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles earlier this year. She said the Panel is indispensable in investigating Pyongyang’s unlawful weapons programme and sanctions evasion efforts and the Council should do more to empower it and ensure that its work is best leveraged.

China’s representative emphasized that the Panel must improve its methods and carry out its work in an objective, impartial manner. Media outlets cited material contained in the Panel’s interim and final reports detailing the inner workings of the 1718 Committee and the Panel itself. He urged the Council to raise the issue of leaked reports and confidentiality of information within the resolution on the Panel’s mandate renewal, he said.

The Russian Federation’s representative expressed support for the resolution while voicing regret that the resolution’s drafters were unable to consider her country’s wishes on preventing the leaking of expert reports.

Norway’s representative welcomed the Panel’s assessments of and reporting on incidents of possible noncompliance with Council resolutions, while reiterating the importance of the confidentiality of reports and related information before publication. Any leaks only diminish the credibility of the Sanctions Committee’s work, severely impacting its efforts to oversee the sanctions and address non-compliance, she said.

Mexico’s representative expressed regret that despite many efforts by the resolution’s author, no agreement was reached on the explicit instructions that the Panel investigate and report as needed on incidents related to the launch of ballistic missiles. “This is especially relevant”, he emphasized, describing the Panel as the technical and impartial body that should expeditiously provide information on missile technology and capacity involved in launches in order to establish without a doubt if such actions violate the Council’s resolutions.

Briefing Council members, Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said the Hwasong 17 missile launched on 24 March landed within Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone. She added that Pyongyang conducted 12 launches using ballistic missile technology in the last year alone — testing hypersonic weapons, railway-borne missiles, an intermediate range ballistic missile and systems related to the development of military reconnaissance satellites.

Moreover, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea appears to be pursuing its nuclear programme, she said. Citing a 7 March report by the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), she said it indicates operations at the Yongyon site and construction of an annex to its reported enrichment centrifuge facility, in defiance of the Council’s repeated demands to cease such activities. “The unity of the Security Council in this matter is essential to ease tensions,” she affirmed.

In the ensuing dialogue, representatives strongly condemned the 24 March launch as a “clear escalation” and demanded immediate action by the Council, with Japan’s delegate emphasizing: “These willful and repeated violations of Council resolutions are partly a result of the long regrettable silence of the Council. This should end now.”

The Republic of Korea’s representative similarly condemned the launches as a flagrant violation of the moratorium that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea itself enacted in 2018. Noting that his country’s efforts to restart dialogue with Pyongyang met “not only a cold silence, but also with continued provocations”, he emphasized that no one harbours any hostility towards Pyongyang and urged the latter to refrain from further provocations.

The representative of the United States agreed that the launch warrants an immediate response and urged the Council to speak in one voice and bring the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea back to the negotiating table. The United States will be introducing a draft resolution under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations to update and strengthen the sanctions regime, she added.

China’s delegate similarly said his delegation and that of the Russian Federation have developed a resolution with the aim of easing the humanitarian plight and creating an atmosphere for dialogue. He added that the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should re-engage in direct talks without delay, pressing Washington, D.C., to demonstrate good will and work harder to stabilize the situation.

The Russian Federation’s representative added that mutually acceptable diplomatic and political solutions are the only means to resolve the issues and establish a stable security mechanism for North-East Asia. The resolution devised by the Russian Federation and China could support those aims, she said, denouncing the idea that Pyongyang should carry out unconditional disarmament under threat of “turning the sanctions screw”.

Also speaking today were representatives of Albania, Ireland, France, Norway, United Kingdom, India, Mexico, Ghana, Kenya, Gabon, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates.

The meeting began at 3:05 p.m. and ended at 4:44 p.m.