Japan, France Support Stricter Sanctions on Pyongyang, as Russian Federation Warns of Unacceptable Humanitarian Consequences
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has intensified the pace of its launches using ballistic missile technology, having fired more missiles in the past five months than in the prior two years combined, a senior Secretariat official told the Security Council today.
Mohamed Khaled Khiari, Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, reported that the country launched a missile using ballistic missile technology on 4 May, a ballistic missile of possible intercontinental range from the same location on 24 March, and another missile on 7 May, possibly from a submarine. No public information on either launch or airspace or maritime safety notifications were issued.
The Secretary-General strongly condemns the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s continued development of missiles using ballistic missile technology, he said, underscoring that such actions are clear violations of relevant Council resolutions and increase tensions in the region and beyond. Moreover, the leader of that country said on 25 April and again on 30 April that Pyongyang could pre-emptively use its nuclear weapons. “Statements of this nature are deeply concerning,” he warned, pointing to indications of resumed construction activities at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, which was declared closed in 2018.
Member States must strengthen efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons, given the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s continued development of missiles using ballistic missile technology, instead of ceasing such activities. “The unity of the Security Council in this matter is essential to ease tensions, overcome the diplomatic impasse and avoid a negative action-reaction cycle,” he said.
Affirming that the Secretary-General is committed to working with all parties for the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, he urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to comply with the Council’s decisions and reset the course to dialogue. Given the critical humanitarian needs of its people, the country must also allow entry of international staff, including the United Nations Resident Coordinator, as well as aid supplies.
In the discussion that followed, delegates expressed alarm at the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea ongoing nuclear and missile programmes and the grave consequences they pose for international security, with many urging swift and unified action by the Council, including an updating of the sanctions regime.
The representative of the United States said the Council has largely stayed silent due to two members who have argued that restraint would help bring Pyongyang back to the negotiating table. “Clearly, silence and restraint have not worked,” she said, asking those countries that regularly engage with Pyongyang to urge the latter to cooperate, while affirming her country’s commitment to a diplomatic solution. Noting the required upkeep of the sanctions regime imposed against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, she urged members to support the new Chapter VII resolution her Government is negotiating.
China’s representative pointed out that although the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States had met to advance the denuclearization process, the United States later reneged its position and did not reciprocate the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s positive initiatives. Stressing that sanctions are not constructive, he said the new draft resolution proposed by the United States is not the appropriate way to address the current situation.
The speaker for France said the easing of sanctions, as some have called for, would make no sense in the current context. On the contrary, the Council must implement the sanctions regime more strictly and update it, including in new fields, such as cyberspace, which is currently enabling the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to finance its programmes. He urged that country to begin a process for the full verifiable and irreversible dismantling of its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic-missile programmes.
The representative of the Russian Federation noted with regret that the Council has not responded to Pyongyang’s adherence to relevant resolutions, and instead has only tightened sanctions, threatening the citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with unacceptable humanitarian consequences. Cautioning against the so-called “stand-alone secondary sanctions” imposed by the United States against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and other States, she noted that the Russian Federation’s draft humanitarian resolution on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea remains on the table.
Several delegates highlighted the dire humanitarian situation in the country, with Kenya’s representative urging the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to prioritize the needs of its people over militarization.
The representative of the Republic of Korea urged the Council and the rest of the international community to send a clear warning that a nuclear test will be met with a very firm response, calling on Pyongyang to respond to his Government’s efforts at building sustainable peace on the Korean Peninsula.
The speaker for Japan stressed that the international community must not allow the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear and missile development to become a “new normal”, highlighting the grave threat to the security of his country and beyond. Expressing support for a new sanctions resolution, he called on the Council to fulfil its responsibility in realizing the dismantlement of the weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner in line with relevant resolutions.
Also speaking were representatives of Albania, Ireland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Mexico, Brazil, India, Ghana, Gabon and Norway.
The meeting began at 3:03 p.m. and ended at 4:28 p.m.