The Security Council this afternoon expressed its "serious concern" over the recent grounding of a Democratic People's Republic of Korea submarine on the territory of the Republic of Korea and subsequent military actions.
In a statement read out by its President, Gerardo Martinez Blanco (Honduras), the Council urged "both sides of the Korean Peninsula" to settle outstanding issues through peaceful means through dialogue and to fully observe the Korean Armistice Agreement. The Council stressed that the Armistice Agreement shall remain in force until replaced by a new peace mechanism.
The meeting was called to order at 1:07 p.m. and rose at 1:12 p.m.
The full text of the statement, to be issued as document S/PRST/1996/42, reads as follows:
"The Security Council has considered the letters of the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea (documents S/1996/774, S/1996/824 and S/1996/847), and the letters of the Permanent Representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (documents S/1996/768 and S/1996/800), regarding the incident of a submarine of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on 18 September 1996.
"The Security Council expresses its serious concern over this incident. The Council urges that the Korean Armistice Agreement should be fully observed and that no action should be taken that might increase tension or undermine peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
"The Security Council stresses that the Armistice Agreement shall remain in force until it is replaced by a new peace mechanism.
"The Security Council encourages both sides of the Korean Peninsula to settle their outstanding issues by peaceful means through dialogue, so that peace and security on the Peninsula will be strengthened."
- 2 - Press Release SC/6279 15 October 1996
Letters before Council
The Council had before it three letters from the Republic of Korea, and two from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
A letter dated 23 September (document S/1996/774) from the Republic of Korea addressed to the President of the Council states that on 18 September a military submarine was found about 100 feet offshore, grounded in shallow water near the coastal city of Kangnung, one of the major ports on the eastern coast of the Republic of Korea. His Government had determined that the submarine belonged to the north Korean armed forces, that the occupants of the submarine were all officers of the north Korean regular army, that they were fully armed and that all of them went ashore, infiltrating the territory of the Republic of Korea. One of the submarine's occupants had been captured alive in the vicinity of the city of Kangnung, 11 had been found dead, presumably shot by their leader, and nine had been killed through exchanges of fire with the Republic of Korea Army. The rest remained at large. The letter terms it "deplorable" that north Korea had not given up its attempt to dismantle the Korean Armistice Agreement.
A letter to the Council President from the Permanent Representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea dated 23 September (document S/1996/768) transmits a statement by the spokesman of the Ministry of the People's Armed Forces of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. According to that statement, the submarine seemed to have run aground on the waters of Kangrung due to engine trouble during a routine training mission. The submarine had no heavy weapons on board, but only shooting weapons for the use of training.
Another Democratic People's Republic of Korea letter dated 27 September addressed to the Secretary-General (document S/1996/800) reiterates that the submarine had been conducting routine training on that country's side of the East Sea, and that it had run aground due to engine trouble. South Korean authorities were exaggerating the incident for political purposes. Through that incident the world had once again witnessed the Republic of Korea's "barbarousness and beastliness", the letter states. It adds that "if the enemies do not return our small submarine, survivors and the dead unconditionally while continuing to make ill use of the incident for the sinister political purpose, we will be forced to take strong countermeasures".
Annexed to the letter is a report on the emergency joint meeting of the Government political parties and social organizations of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, dated 26 September. According to the report, the joint meeting condemned the south Korea authorities for "brutally killing our People's army men who could not but go ashore off Kangrung, south Korea, owing to sudden engine trouble".
- 3 - Press Release SC/6279 15 October 1996
A second annex transmits a statement of the Korean Central News Agency dated 27 September which says that the soldiers of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, stranded in the beached submarine had been branded as "armed spies" and "armed communist bandits", thus becoming the target of military attack by a south Korea army and police search team. The 20 soldiers of the north side possessed no arms or equipment for intrusion or destruction. The south Korean authorities were aggravating the tension by using the accident, which could have been settled peacefully, for the purpose of inter-Korean confrontation.
Another Republic of Korea letter dated 3 October (document S/1996/824), states that since its 23 September letter, two more North Korean commandos had been killed in an exchange of fire with the Republic of Korea Army, bringing the total number of North Korean deaths to 22. Appropriate action by the Security Council on the issue was now in order; the international community should send a clear and strong signal to North Korea that further provocations on its part would not be tolerated.
A further letter from the Republic of Korea, dated 11 October (document S/1996/847), transmits the text of a resolution adopted by the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea on 23 September concerning the submarine incident. That resolution calls upon the international community to take a serious view of the situation, in which the stability and peace in east Asia was constantly threatened by North Korea, and to closely cooperate with the Republic of Korea in restraining that country.
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