Friday, 14 July 2023 21:15

Status quo on Korean Peninsula ‘alarming and unsustainable’, Security Council hears

© UNICEF/Olga Basurmanova
Children wait to receive nutritional supplements at a clinic in Nampo City, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. (file)


Unity on the Security Council in the face of missile launches by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is essential to ease tensions across the whole Korean Peninsula, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for political and peacebuilding affairs for the region said on Thursday.



Khaled Khiari was briefing the Council just a day after DPRK conducted the second launch of its Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a system which he said can now “reach most points on Earth.”

It represented “potentially” Pyongyang’s longest ever ballistic missile flight, lasting around 74 minutes and travelling over 1,000 kilometres before crashing into the sea within Russia’s Exclusive Economic Zone, but close to the Japanese waters, Mr. Khiari told ambassadors.

Guterres urges compliance

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Wednesday night issued a statement strongly condemning the launch of “yet another” long-range ballistic missile by the DPRK, more commonly known as North Korea.

The missile had the required range to potentially hit the continental United States, raising the risk that it could be used by Pyongyang to launch a long-range nuclear strike, according to news reports.

The launch came after DPRK had threatened retaliation against what it stated were incursions over its sovereign territory by a US spyplane.

Washington has reportedly rejected the accusations, describing its military patrols as fully in line with international law.

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In the statement issued by his Spokesperson, Mr. Guterres reiterated his calls on the DPRK to “fully comply” with its international obligations under all relevant Security Council resolutions, which prohibit the country from conducting any launches using ballistic missile technology.

He also appealed to the DPRK to resume dialogue “without preconditions” leading to sustainable peace and the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

‘Serious risk’

Mr. Khiari told Thursday’s emergency meeting in New York that for this fourth ICBM test of the year – following five last year — DPRK had failed to issue airspace or maritime safety notifications for the launch.

This represents “a serious risk to international civil aviation and maritime traffic”, he said.

He highlighted DPRK’s attempted military satellite launch at the end of May, saying that although any country has the right to carry out peaceful space activities, Security Council resolutions prohibit the country from carrying out any launches using ballistic missile technology.

“Key peace and security issues such as the situation on the Korean Peninsula, must be an area for cooperation”, the senior official said.

‘Reverse the dangerous dynamic’

He told the Council there were practical measures which could be taken to reduce tensions and “reverse the dangerous dynamic”, tilting towards diplomacy.

“I do emphasize the importance of re-establishing communication channels, particularly those between military entities and exercising maximum restraint. It is critical to avoid an unintended escalation.”

Mr. Khiari also highlighted the UN’s continued concern over the humanitarian situation in the DPRK, saying the Organization was always ready to assist the country’s vulnerable populations.

He urged Pyongyang to allow the “unimpeded re-entry and rotation of the international community” now COVID-19 has ceased to be a public health emergency, including the resident UN team.

Diplomacy, not isolation

“Diplomacy – not isolation – is the only way forward”, he stressed.

He closed by stressing that unity in the chamber “is essential to ease tensions and overcome the diplomatic impasse. The primary responsibility for international peace and security rests with this Council.”