Non-proliferation/Democratic People's Republic of Korea - Security Council, 9183rd meeting

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04-Nov-2022 02:14:44
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s unprecedented number of ballistic missile launches violates resolutions, senior official warns Security Council.

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The launch of an unprecedented number of missiles, including an intercontinental ballistic missile, on 2 and 3 November by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, is reckless and a clear violation of Security Council resolutions, a United Nations senior political and peacebuilding official told the Security Council today, as members expressed alarm at the unabated flurry of missile activity from Pyongyang, as well as the Council’s continued inaction in face of such provocations.

Mohamed Khaled Khiari, Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific in the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, reported that according to various Government sources, on 3 November, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile, which reportedly covered a range of 760 kilometres and reached an apogee of around 1,920 kilometres, indicating that the launch may not have been successful. In addition, one of the ballistic missiles launched on 2 November reportedly impacted in waters in proximity of the territorial sea of the Republic of Korea, he said. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has yet to publicly provide details.

He recalled the Secretary-General’s strong condemnation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile of reported intercontinental range, as well as the call for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to immediately cease any further reckless acts and comply fully with its international obligations under relevant Security Council resolutions. That country was also urged to immediately return to the negotiating table and for the key parties to resume their diplomatic efforts to achieve sustainable peace and a complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Noting that the present meeting marks the ninth time the Council has met to discuss the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 2022, he emphasized the need for the Council to do all it can to prevent an escalation, given the potential risks associated with any military confrontation. “The unity of the Council in this matter is essential to ease tensions, overcome the diplomatic impasse and the negative action-reaction cycle,” he said.

In the ensuing discussion, many speakers expressed alarm about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s intensifying escalation of missile launch activities and its professed aim to advance its illegal missile and nuclear programmes. Several members urged the Council to present a united front and act decisively against that country’s unchecked, brazen violations of the Council’s resolutions, while others underlined the need for dialogue and for humanitarian aid to flow freely into the country.

The representative of the United States, noting that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s latest test was its seventh this year, called the country’s flagrant violations of Council resolutions “appalling”. Equally appalling is the Council’s deafening silence on this issue, she stressed, pointing out that 13 Council members had voted to impose costs on Pyongyang to impede its unlawful pursuits. However, two Council members have “bent over backwards” to justify Pyongyang’s repeated violations. Countering claims by those two nations that the United States and the Republic of Korea have stoked tensions on the Korean Peninsula with military exercises, she pointed out that the United States and the Republic of Korea are engaging in long-standing defensive military exercises that pose no threat to anyone, “never mind the DPRK”.

The United Arab Emirate’s delegate was among several speakers who expressed regret that Pyongyang’s limited resources continue to be directed towards its military capabilities, rather than the urgent humanitarian and development needs of the country’s people. While sanctions have not prevented Pyongyang from developing its nuclear and ballistic capabilities, “they have undoubtedly helped slow the pace of such development”, he said, urging all Member States to uphold the relevant sanctions regime. The Council must not look at the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s latest ballistic missile launches in isolation, as that country’s “reckless and irresponsible behaviour has continued, undeterred, for too long”, he emphasized.

Offering a contrasting perspective, China’s representative underscored that recent launches by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea “did not happen in isolation”, attributing the current state of the Korean Peninsula to the resumption of large-scale joint military exercises after a five-year hiatus by the United States and other countries. Moreover, in its 2022 nuclear-posture review, the United States Department of Defense claimed that ending the “DPRK’s regime” is one of the main goals of its nuclear strategy. Pointing out that both the United States and others explain their actions as defensive in nature, he noted that if each side sticks to its arguments, the situation on the Korean Peninsula “will only fall into a vicious circle”.

Echoing such points, the representative of the Russian Federation also took issue with the joint exercises of the United States, Japan and the Republic of Korea, calling it “a rehearsal for conducting massive strikes on the territory of the Democratic Republic of Korea”. Pyongyang’s missile launches are a result of the short-sighted confrontational military activities of the United States in the region, she said, also pointing to Washington, D.C.’s “irresponsible discussions” to deploy in the region an American means of deterrent, including a nuclear deterrent.

The Republic of Korea’s representative, however, pointed out that one of the ballistic missiles on 2 November flew over the de facto inter-Korean maritime border for the first time since the Korean Peninsula was divided. “This was particularly reckless, dangerous and ill-advised behaviour,” he emphasized. Further, such continued provocations violate multiple Council resolutions, threaten the Korean Peninsula and beyond and prove that it is time to close loopholes and fully implement all relevant Council resolutions. Expressing regret that the Council failed to adopt a resolution in response to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile provocations in May, due to two permanent members’ opposition, he warned: “This Council’s deafening silence on the DPRK’s countless provocations only further emboldens Pyongyang’s reckless behaviour.”

In a similar vein, the representative of Japan observed that the Council’s failure to take action in May had led to a record-high number of missiles being launched in a short period of time. Responding to those actions, the Council met on 5 October but could not even issue a press statement, he said, calling on the Council to assume its duty to “end this vicious cycle”. The Council’s own resolutions, which were unanimously adopted, are being “disparaged”. More so, he recalled the statement at the general debate of the General Assembly this year, where “North Korea clearly stated that it has ‘never recognized such resolutions of the UN’ and ‘will not accept them in the future, too’”. Asking how the Council could turn a blind eye to this blatant challenge to its authority, he emphasized that it should abide by its own decisions, even if the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea refuses to.

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

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