The recent launch by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) of a satellite posed a major risk to international civil aviation and maritime traffic, a senior UN political affairs official said on Friday, underscoring the need for practical measures to reduce tensions in the Korean Peninsula and create space for dialogue.
“I emphasize the importance of re-establishing communication channels, particularly between military entities,” said Khaled Khiari, Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, briefing ambassadors at the Security Council.
“Exercising maximum restraints is critical to avoid unintended escalation. Diplomacy and dialogue – not isolation – is the only way forward.”
On 24 August, DPRK – more commonly known as North Korea – conducted what it described as its second launch of a military reconnaissance satellite from the Sohae Satellite Launching Station. The launch failed, reportedly due to an error during the flight.
The launch follows a previous attempt to launch a satellite on 31 May and according to official media, the country is to conduct a third satellite launch in October.
UN Secretary-General António Guterresstrongly condemned the launch, underscoring that such actions using ballistic missile technology is contrary to the relevant Security Council resolutions.
He reiterated his call on the country to cease such acts and to swiftly resume dialogue without preconditions to achieve the goal of sustainable peace and the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Over 90 launches
In his briefing, Mr. Khiari noted that developing a military reconnaissance satellite was part of North Korea’s five-year military development plan, which it unveiled in January 2021.
In line with the plan, the DPRK has significantly increased its missile launch activities in 2022 and 2023, including more than 90 launches using ballistic missile technology, in violation of Security Council resolutions, he said.
“Since our last briefing on 13 July, the DPRK has openly displayed its nuclear-weapon delivery systems during both a weaponry exhibition and a military parade. Such displays undermine the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) that underpins it.”
Mr. Khiari also highlighted concerns over the humanitarian situation in North Korea, compounded by climate hazards and ongoing border closures and noted reports of an easing of border restrictions.
“The United Nations is ready to assist the DPRK in addressing the basic needs of its vulnerable populations,” he said.
The UN political affairs official further noted progress in vaccines and treatments, and the declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO) that COVID-19no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern and urged the country to allow unimpeded re-entry and rotation of the international community, including UN officials.
“A collective return would positively impact international support to the people of DPRK and strengthen communication channels,” he said.