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Expressing Alarm about Escalating Activities, Speakers Disagree Over Reasons for Country’s Illegal Missile, Nuclear Programmes

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.

The meeting began at 3:05 p.m. and ended at 4:20 p.m.

Briefing

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, said that, according to various Government sources, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea launched an unprecedented number of ballistic missiles and other types of systems on 2 and 3 November.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has yet to publicly provide details of these launches.  One of the missiles launched on 3 November was assessed to be an intercontinental ballistic, reportedly covering a range of 760 kilometres.  It reached an apogee of around 1,920 kilometres, indicating that the launch may not have been successful.  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 quoted the Secretary-General as strongly condemning the launch of a ballistic missile of reported intercontinental range by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as well as the barrage of various missiles over recent days.

Recalling that the Secretary-General also called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to immediately cease any further reckless acts and to comply fully with its international obligations under relevant Security Council resolutions, he added:  “It is troubling that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has consistently and irresponsibly disregarded any consideration for international flight or maritime safety.”  He pointed out that while that country’s National Aviation Administration stated on 8 October that its missile launch did not pose a risk to civil aviation or the region, aircraft operators are required to assess safety of their own flight operations, by relying on coordination amongst air traffic services authorities, as well as the promulgation of timely information on hazards. 

He also highlighted the Secretary-General’s deep concern regarding the tension on the Korean Peninsula and the increase in confrontational rhetoric, including the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s messaging related to nuclear weapon use.  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 said that since the last briefing took place on 5 October, that country claimed that its seven earlier missile launch events were all part of “tactical nuclear operation units”.  The spate of missile launches and military exercises contributes to a negative action-reaction cycle.  Communication channels needed to be immediately strengthened, including inter-Korean and military to military, to lower the risk of miscalculation and reduce tensions in the region.  “Given the potential risks associated with any military confrontation, in exercise of its primary responsibility, the Security Council needs to do all it can to prevent an escalation,” he stressed, underlining the need for unity in the Council.  Such cohesion also creates an opportunity to seek offramps and sustained diplomatic engagement.

On behalf of the Secretary-General, he urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to immediately return to the negotiating table and for the key parties to resume their diplomatic efforts with a view to achieving sustainable peace and a complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.  Turning to the humanitarian situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said that the United Nations system, in coordination with international and humanitarian partners, stands ready to send staff and assistance to help the country address medical and humanitarian needs, including those related to the COVID‑19 pandemic.  He reiterated his call for the unimpeded entry of international staff and humanitarian supplies for a timely and effective response.  “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.

Statements

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States) said that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s latest test, the seventh this year, is particularly concerning, as is the unprecedented impact of a ballistic missile just about 50 kilometres or 30 miles from the Republic of Korea’s shoreline.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has now launched 59 ballistic missiles this year.  “For a UN Member State to so flagrantly violate Security Council resolutions and all that the UN Charter stands for is appalling,” she said.  Equally appalling is the Council’s deafening silence on this issue.  Thirteen Council members have joined in voting to impose cost on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that would impede its unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile pursuits.  Yet the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has enjoyed “blanket protection” from two Council members who have “bent over backwards” to justify the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s repeated violations.  “You don’t get to abandon Security Council responsibilities because the DPRK might sell you weapons to fuel your war of aggression in Ukraine, or because you think they make a good regional buffer to the United States,” she said.  Regarding 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 States remains committed to a diplomatic solution, and despite a lack of engagement from Pyongyang, will continue to pursue meaningful dialogue.

FERIT HOXHA (Albania) pointed out that the Democratic Republic of Korea will “read the patience and the silence of the Council as a license to do more of the same”.  Condemning, in the strongest terms, that country’s reckless and unlawful actions that pose a threat to its peaceful neighbours and to international peace and security, he called upon it to cease the escalation immediately.  The steps taken by the “Kim Jong regime” to further escalate and prepare another nuclear test with unknown consequences was disturbing and distressing.  “These actions compromise the security of South Korean people, the Korean Peninsula, and the whole region”, he emphasized.  In this regard, he urged that the acceleration of escalation by the Democratic Republic of Korea, its proliferation policies and nuclear threats be countered by an immediate, unified, and effective response from the Council.  The failure to respond decisively is tantamount to dereliction of duty by the Council and will further erode its credibility and affect its relevance.  “Member States and the international public opinion do not want a self-paralyzed Council when it should be active, deliver, take action”, he stressed. 

NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) expressed particular concern that a ballistic missile impacted on the South Korean side of the maritime border, only a few kilometres away from the coast.  Similarly, he expressed dismay about the firing of a ballistic missile that could be intercontinental in nature.  “The increasing number of ballistic tests since the beginning of the year should be a source of concern to everyone,” he stressed.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has improved its ballistic capacity with the stated intention of developing a tactical nuclear programme.  Inexorably, it continues its enrichment activities on the ground, at Yongbyon and Pungyee Rii.  He also noted that the country circumvents sanctions by sea and through cyberattacks that directly fund its programmes.  He, thus, underscored that it would be irresponsible to “reward violations of the resolutions” by relaxing the sanctions.  “The division of the Council provides North Korea with coverage to continue its provocations,” he added.  As such, he reiterated support for a swift and good faith return of the country to the negotiations table to achieve complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.  In this vein, he also encouraged the necessary dialogue between all parties in the region.

CÁIT MORAN (Ireland) said the 25 missiles launched over the last 24 hours, including a seventh intercontinental ballistic missile launch in 2022, demonstrate the dangerous path the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is taking.  “These launches show the continuing, unprecedented escalation of the DPRK’s [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] illegal missile activities over the past year,” she added.  Ireland is deeply worried that for the first time, such launches have landed within the Republic of Korea’s exclusive economic zone.  And rather than taking up genuine offers of talks by the United States and Republic of Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has sought to raise tensions through these launches.  It has sought to advance its illegal missile and nuclear programmes, with the declared aim of developing tactical nuclear weapons.  “DPRK can never and will never be accepted as a nuclear weapon State,” she said, calling on Pyongyang to immediately end its destabilizing actions.  “Genuine dialogue is the only way to lasting peace, security and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” she added.  The United States and the Republic of Korea “offers are on the table”, and it is only the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that continues to reject this path.

MONA JUUL (Norway) said her delegation condemns in the strongest terms the launch of a record number of missiles in the past few days.  The recent launches raise tensions, threaten peace and stability in the region and beyond, and make diplomatic efforts more difficult.  The launches also endanger civil aviation and maritime traffic in the region.  “This pattern of behaviour is not acceptable.  It cannot continue,” she said.  She regretted the Council has been silent as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continues its destabilizing activities and intensifies its violations of Council resolutions.  She repeated her call for the Council to show unity in response to the Pyongyang’s escalatory behaviour.  Diplomacy is the right, and only way, forward for sustained peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.  For this to happen, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must choose dialogue.  Council members have shown they take the country’s humanitarian situation seriously and sanctions are an essential part of its efforts to slow the development of, and counter, its prohibited weapons programmes.  She called on Pyongyang to cooperate with the international community and let humanitarian support reach the country’s people.  She also asked all Member States to fully implement existing Council resolutions concerning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) called this week’s salvo of missile launches by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, including an intercontinental ballistic missile, a “serious escalation”.  The Council must condemn these actions clearly for what they are:  an unacceptable threat to international peace and security.  Council members must also recall that the cost of these illicit launches is being borne directly by the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  “The millions of dollars expended on this week’s launches alone could feed DPRK’s entire population for weeks,” she added, calling on Pyongyang to allow aid to flow freely into the country.  The Council should also renew calls for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to engage meaningfully with offers from the United States and the Republic of Korea of dialogue.  Two Council members seek to equate lawful defensive military exercises with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s escalatory actions this week.  “Defensive exercises are safe when they are notified to other States in advance,” she said, adding:  “What is not safe, is the launch of missiles that all members of this Council have agreed many times that DPRK must not possess.”

RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) condemned in the strongest terms the ballistic missile launches.  Beyond the threat posed by the continued expansion of the Democratic Republic of Korea’s arsenal, he outlined two classes of risks in the recent missile activities.  First, there is the risk from the test of experimental systems, especially used over populated areas.  He expressed great concern that the latest launch of the intercontinental ballistic missile may have failed after the separation of the second missile stage, which presented a “grave and unacceptable” risk to civilians in the region, as well as to ships and aircraft.  Moreover, the Democratic Republic of Korea did not issue any notice-to-airmen prior to the launches.  The second class of risk lays in the repeated and intensive testing of established systems, such as short-range ballistic missiles.  The immediate priority must be to bring down tensions on the Peninsula to reduce the risk of a fatal accident with unforeseeable consequences.  He, thus, urged the Democratic Republic of Korea not only to comply with all relevant Council resolutions, but also to abide by the 2018 Comprehensive Military Agreement with the Republic of Korea.  Urging restraint by all parties in the region, he underscored that responses should seek to avoid tit-for-tat military action.  Spotlighting the importance of diplomatic outreach, he said that “[diplomacy] is the fabric of international society and our best tool for avoiding traps of misperception and miscalculation”.

ZHANG JUN (China) expressed hope that all parties concerned will remain calm, exercise restraint, “be cautious in words and deeds” and refrain from any action that many exacerbate tensions and lead to miscalculation.  The root causes of the current situation on the Korean Peninsula “are clear to all”, he stressed, stating that recent launches by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea “did not happen in isolation”.  The United States and relevant countries resumed large-scale joint military exercises after a five-year hiatus and, 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.  That country has also advanced nuclear-submarine cooperation and has said that it will deploy strategic weapons in the region.  He went on to point out that the United States and others claim that the military exercises are defensive in nature, while Pyongyang emphasizes that the development of national defence is necessary.  If each side sticks to its arguments, he stressed, the situation on the Korean Peninsula “will only fall into a vicious circle”.  Only by resuming dialogue and consultation can tensions be eased and mutual trust built, and he called on the United States to stop unilaterally playing up tensions and confrontation; respond to Pyongyang’s legitimate, reasonable concerns; and create the conditions for resumption of meaningful dialogue.  He added that the Council should play a constructive role, rather than stressing pressure, to help maintain stability and prevent chaos on the Korean Peninsula.

JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) noted with great concern the information confirming that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea launched a ballistic missile which landed in the exclusive economic zone of the Republic of Korea, as well as the failed launch of what was assessed to be an intercontinental ballistic, and 20 additional missiles with varied ranges, stressing:  “No situation has been serious as this.”  He expressed concern about the systematic violation of Council resolutions with no consequence from the organ, as Pyongyang continues to develop its nuclear and ballistic programmes, to the detriment of disarmament architecture.  Further, the sanctions regime has not been respected, enabling that country’s ability to channel resources to the aforementioned programmes.  Although the Council is unable to counter challenges to its authority, it should press for urgent diplomatic dialogue to reach a negotiated solution, he said, adding:  “Perhaps there we could find the convergence that is needed, so that the united voice of the Council can be heard.”  He went on to call for maximum restraint, and for further violations of Council resolutions or confrontation to be avoided.

MICHAEL KAPKIAI KIBOINO (Kenya) expressed profound concern over the escalating situation on the Korean Peninsula.  In 2022 alone, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has launched 59 ballistic missiles in flagrant violation of multiple Council resolutions.  In addition, there are disconcerting indications that the country is developing its nuclear weapons capabilities with the prospects of a nuclear test in the coming days.  “These relentless and provocative actions are unfortunately driving the region to an unnecessary arms race that presents a grave threat to international peace and security,” he warned.  A slight miscalculation could throw the Korean Peninsula into “unprecedented turmoil”, with catastrophic global socioeconomic and security repercussions.  Unconditional and genuine dialogue is the “only viable path out of this fragile situation”.  It is also disturbing that the provocations are happening against a backdrop of a deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he added, calling on the State to prioritize the needs of its people over costly military adventures.

AURÉLIE FLORE KOUMBA PAMBO (Gabon), noted that the new launch of missiles is a clear threat.  She expressed a firm attachment to the non-proliferation regime as well as peace on the Korean Peninsula.  “Diplomacy through missile launches and shows of force cannot be the solution,” she stressed, noting that it is neither constructive, nor viable, and feeds tension and raises concerns for the population.  She called for de-escalation and conditional dialogue in order to reach a solution for peace and eradiation of nuclear threat on the Korean Peninsula.  She expressed opposition to the use of nuclear weapons as well as any threat of using them, saying that such weapons should neither be manufactured nor produced because of their unsustainable potential for destruction.  “The solution to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula can only be found through dialogue and consultation,” she underscored, calling on the parties to commit to diplomatic negotiations and to resume discussions based on the track established in 2017.

MOHAMED ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates) stressed that the Council must not look at the latest ballistic missile launches by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in isolation, as that country’s “reckless and irresponsible behaviour has continued, undeterred, for too long”.  He underscored that the Council must not treat this situation as “business as usual” while the people of Japan, the Republic of Korea and the region live under the “constant threat of imminent danger”.  Pyongyang must respect international law, particularly Council resolutions that prohibit it from conducting ballistic missile launches and nuclear tests, and he urged that country to “choose diplomacy and dialogue over provocation and escalation”.  He further called on Pyongyang to refrain from conducting future illegal tests, abandon its nuclear weapons programmes and fulfil its denuclearization obligations.  For its part, the Council must redouble its efforts to maintain peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and safeguard the global non-proliferation regime.  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.  He therefore urged all Member States to uphold the relevant sanctions regime and take all reasonable measures to prevent the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea from continuing to evade the same.  He also 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.

ANNA M. EVSTIGNEEVA (Russian Federation) expressed regret that the United Nations representative did not give the full picture of the situation in his briefing.  “The risk in the region is too high today to focus on one-sided information,” she stressed.  She recalled the desire of Washington to force Pyongyang to unilaterally disarm by using sanctions and exerting pressure.  Spotlighting the unprecedented exercises of the United States and the Republic of Korea, she called it “a rehearsal for conducting massive strikes on the territory of the Democratic Republic of Korea”.  She also pointed to the joint exercises of the United States, Japan and the Republic of Korea and the “irresponsible discussions” to deploy in the region an American means of deterrent, including a nuclear deterrent.  Pyongyang’s missile launches are a result of the short-sighted confrontational military activities of the United States in the region.  “The situation cannot be seen in isolation,” she stressed, referring to the increasing pushy promotion of its unilateral security doctrine in the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to divide the countries up according to the principle “you are either for us, or you are against us”.  Part of this activity is the establishment of the new military alliances, including the one between the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.  Such actions do not help to establish dialogue.  In this regard, she expressed regret that the “Western colleagues” have consistently ignored the repeated appeals of Pyongyang to the United States to cease its hostile activity in order to pave the way for dialogue.

RUCHIRA KAMBOJ (India) voiced concern about recent ballistic missile launches by the Democratic Republic of Korea, having noted reports of yet another intercontinental ballistic missile launch by that country on 2 November.  These missile launches, including those in October, constitute a violation of Council resolutions relating to that country, she pointed out, calling for full implementation of those resolutions.  She underscored the importance of addressing the proliferation of nuclear and missile technologies related to the Democratic Republic of Korea, noting their adverse impact on peace and security in the region, including on India.  She reiterated her country’s continued support for denuclearization towards peace and security in the Korean Peninsula, affirming its continued support as well for dialogue and diplomacy as the means to resolve issues there.

HAROLD A. AGYEMAN (Ghana) Council President for October, spoke in his national capacity, noting that this week alone, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has launched over 20 missiles, in addition to launching more than 50 since the beginning of 2022.  Such launches are unprecedented in scale, frequency, diversity and, in some cases, trajectory, and are in clear breach of several Security Council resolutions.  The information that one of the missiles launched this week was an intercontinental ballistic missile marks a new and dangerous phase of escalation of tensions.  Ghana is gravely concerned about the current launches and others before it, and firmly deplores them.  “Present trends holding, we are just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from open confrontation on the peninsula,” he said.  The Council can no longer turn a blind eye to the possibility of open confrontation on the Korean Peninsula, he said, underscoring the need for such a possibility to be averted.  “Inaction is not an option,” he emphasized.  The Council must call on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to take concrete, urgent steps to refrain from further missile tests and adhere to relevant Council resolutions.

HWANG JOONKOOK (Republic of Korea) condemned, in the strongest terms, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s unprecedented number of missile launches over the last several days.  Among them, a ballistic missile on 2 November flew over the de facto inter-Korean maritime border, the Northern Limit Line, for the first time since the Korean Peninsula was divided.  “This was particularly reckless, dangerous and ill-advised behaviour,” he said, adding that then Pyongyang launched an intercontinental ballistic missile on 3 November.  These provocative acts flagrantly violate multiple Council resolutions, significantly threaten the Korean peninsula and beyond, and seriously challenge the global non-proliferation regime.  It is especially deplorable that serious provocations completely disregard the Republic of Korea’s national mourning period.  These continued provocations have proved it is time to close loopholes and fully implement all relevant Council resolutions.  “Our united action is essential to lead the DPRK to engage in serious dialogue,” he said, calling on all Member States, especially Council members, to fully implement relevant Council resolutions.  Pyongyang’s escalatory behaviour must end, and its continued breach of international obligations must be held accountable.

However, he expressed regret that the Council, responding to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile provocations for the first time since 2006, failed to adopt a resolution in May because of two permanent members’ opposition.  “This Council’s deafening silence on the DPRK’s countless provocations only further emboldens Pyongyang’s reckless behaviour,” he said.  The Council must stop sitting idly by and, instead, fulfil its primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security.  As the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea apparently stands on the verge of its seventh nuclear test, he urged the Council and international community to send a clear warning to that another nuclear test is simply intolerable and will inevitably be met with a very firm response.  “Let me be clear.  There should be no excuses for the DPRK’s recent unlawful provocations,” he emphasized, adding there had been no joint military exercise between the Republic of Korea and the United States during the first half of this year.  That clearly demonstrates the false equivalency between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s reckless behaviour and Republic of Korea-United States annual joint exercises.  That excuse, occasionally mentioned by two permanent members, simply does not hold water.  The defensive endeavours, responding to the direct military threat from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, are a duty of any responsible Government, he stated.

ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan) said that the repeated and persistent provocations by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are unprecedented in both their frequency and their manner.  “They pose a grave and imminent threat to the security of the region,” he stressed, strongly condemning that country’s repeated provocations and violations of Council resolutions.  The Council unanimously adopted resolution 2397 (2017).  The Council also decided to take action if that country launched an intercontinental ballistic missile.  Yet, it has failed to act.  “We all remember the vetoes cast that blocked the Council from taking action in May,” he recalled, adding that inertia has resulted in a record-high number of missiles being launched in a short period of time, including a ballistic missile flying over Japan for the first time in five years.  In response to these actions, the Council met on 5 October, but it could not even issue a press statement, failing again to send a clear message. 

Since then, there has been a historic array of missile launches, including a possible intercontinental ballistic missile this week, he pointed out.  One of the ballistic missiles launched on 2 November crossed the Northern Limit Line and landed near the Republic of Korea’s territorial waters, which had never happened before.  “We are facing the escalation after the Council’s regrettable self-restraints due to its dysfunction,” he added, citing the duty of the Council 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’”.  How can the Council turn a blind eye to this blatant challenge to its authority, he asked, emphasizing that it should abide by its own decisions, even if the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea refuses to.  “Let us make crystal clear the determination of the Council that demands North Korea not to conduct any further launches, nuclear tests, or any other provocation and to abide by all relevant resolutions,” he said.

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