Lack of Communication with Pyongyang Dangerous, Secretary-General Warns, as Security Council Takes Up Non-Proliferation

SC/12804
28 April 2017
7932nd Meeting (AM)

Lack of Communication with Pyongyang Dangerous, Secretary-General Warns, as Security Council Takes Up Non-Proliferation

Peril Real, Stress Japan, Republic of Korea, As China, United States, Russian Federation Differ over Nature of Action Needed,

The absence of communication with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, especially military-to-military channels, was dangerous, the Secretary-General warned the Security Council today, emphasizing the need to lower the risk of miscalculation or misunderstanding.

“I am alarmed by the risk of a military escalation in the region,” he said as the 15-member Council debated the best way to address rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula.  “We need to avoid miscalculation and misunderstanding.”  He added:  “I am particularly concerned by the possibility that efforts to offset the destabilizing activities of the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] could also result in increased arms competition and tensions, further impeding the ability of the international community to maintain unity and achieve a peaceful solution.”

Pyongyang’s continuing pursuit of nuclear-weapon and ballistic missile programmes clearly threatened regional and international security, and seriously undermined international disarmament and non-proliferation efforts, he said.  “We need to act now to prevent conflict and achieve sustainable peace.”

Condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s repeated violations of the relevant Security Council resolutions in the strongest terms, he emphasized:  “The onus is on the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] to comply with its international obligations.”

Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State of the United States, emphasized that all options, including military action, must remain on the table.  He urged the Security Council to “act before the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea does”, warning that it was only a matter of time before Pyongyang could develop the capability to strike the United States mainland.  “The United States cannot stand by idly,” he said, stressing that failing to act on the world’s most pressing security issue could bring catastrophic consequences.  A “new pressure campaign” must be implemented swiftly, he said, stressing that it must be painful to Pyongyang’s interests.

On the other hand, Gennady Gatilov, the Russian Federation’s Deputy Foreign Minister, warned that one ill-thought-out move or misinterpretation could result in the most frightening and lamentable situation, noting that, due to “high muscle flexing”, the whole world was wondering whether war was imminent.  Although it was clear that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was conducting itself in an inappropriate manner, the option of force was completely unacceptable, he emphasized.  Pyongyang would probably not give up on nuclear weapons as long as it felt that its security was threatened, which was exactly how it was likely to view the large-scale manoeuvres and exercises by its neighbours and the United States, he said.

Wang Yi, China’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, emphasized that his country should not be the focal point for the problem on the Korean Peninsula, adding that responsibility for resolving the crisis did not reside in the hands of the Chinese.  Highlighting the indispensable need for a political settlement based on dialogue and negotiation, he said the international community must remain committed to dialogue, warning that the use of force would not create solutions, but could instead lead to bigger problems.  Dialogue was the sensible choice for all parties, he reiterated.

Fumio Kishida, Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs said the threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ballistic missiles had reached a new level and was “not just hypothetical”.  Three such missiles had landed within Japan’s exclusive economic zone on 6 March, he recalled.  “In order to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table, the international community must send a strong message that provocation comes at a high price, and that no bright future awaits North Korea without its denuclearization.”

Yun Byung-se, the Republic of Korea’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, warned that a nuclear-armed Pyongyang could disrupt the region’s security landscape significantly.  It could deal a fatal blow to the global non-proliferation regime and increase the risk of nuclear material or related technology falling into the hands of terrorists.  “In order to avoid this nightmarish scenario, we must act now,” he emphasized, adding:  “We are racing against time.”  He added:  “Our goal is not to bring North Korea to its knees, but to bring it back to the negotiation table for genuine denuclearization.”  However, “dialogue for the sake of dialogue” could not be an option, he said, stressing that the international community must break the vicious cycle of provocations, negotiations and rewards for Pyongyang’s bad behaviour.

Also speaking today included foreign ministers and other representatives of Senegal, United Kingdom, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Sweden, Italy, Ukraine, Uruguay, France, Bolivia and Egypt.

The meeting began at 10 a.m. and ended at 12:10 p.m.

Opening Remarks

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, described the situation on the Korean Peninsula as one of the longest-standing and most serious issues before the Security Council.  He recalled that, in response to accelerated nuclear and ballistic missile activities by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Security Council had adopted two sanctions resolutions and met 11 times in emergency consultations since January 2016.  During that period, that country had conducted two nuclear tests, more than 30 launches using ballistic missile technology and various other activities related to its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.  The absence of coordination and notifications in advance of the launches, other than the space launch on 7 February 2016, contravened internationally accepted regulations and standards, he emphasized.  Furthermore, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) remained unable to access the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in order to verify the status of its nuclear programme, he pointed out.

Noting that Pyongyang had increasingly stressed the importance of nuclear deterrence to its military doctrine, he recalled its recent statement to the United Nations Disarmament Commission, in which, despite reaffirming its support for comprehensive and complete nuclear disarmament, it had said “going nuclear armed is the policy of our State”.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was the only country to have conducted nuclear tests in the present century, he pointed out, warning that the international community must assume that with each test or launch, it continued to make technological advances in its pursuit of nuclear military capability.  “I condemn in the strongest terms the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s] repeated violations of the relevant Security Council resolutions,” he said, emphasizing that Pyongyang’s continuing pursuit of nuclear-weapon and ballistic missile programmes, in defiance of repeated demands by the Security Council that it cease such activities, clearly threatened regional and international security and seriously undermined international disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.

“The onus is on the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] to comply with its international obligations,” he stressed.  “At the same time, the international community must also step up its efforts to manage and reduce tensions.”  The absence of channels of communication with Pyongyang was dangerous, he said, warning:  “We need to avoid miscalculation and misunderstanding.  We need to act now to prevent conflict and achieve sustainable peace.”  That would entail the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea refraining from further testing, complying with the relevant Security Council resolutions and exploring the resumption of dialogue, he said, reiterating the need to reopen and strengthen communications between militaries so as to lower the risk of miscalculation or misunderstanding.  “I stand ready to assist in any way possible, he said, underlining the importance of using the entire package of tools available, from targeted sanctions to channels of communication.  He welcomed the Council’s understanding of the importance of disassociating humanitarian imperatives from the political situation, and called upon Pyongyang to engage with United Nations human rights mechanisms and with the international community to address the grave human rights situation and improve living conditions in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Statements

REX TILLERSON, Secretary of State of the United States and Council President for April, spoke in his national capacity, saying that well-intentioned efforts to halt the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear programme had failed over the past 20 years.  With every successful missile test, that country had pushed the Korean Peninsula and the West a step closer to conflict, he said, emphasizing that the threat was real.  It was only a matter of time until Pyongyang could develop the capability to strike the United States mainland, he warned.  “The United States cannot stand by idly,” he said, stressing that failing to act on the most pressing security issue in the world could bring catastrophic consequences.

“The more we buy time the sooner we will run out of it,” he continued, urging the Council to “act before the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea does”.  The international community must impose economic and diplomatic pressures on Pyongyang, he said, while underlining that the goal was not to change the regime, to threaten the country’s people or to destabilize the Korean Peninsula.  He pointed out that his country had provided more than $1.3 billion to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea since 1995, and looked forward to renewing that contribution once the regime dismantled its nuclear programme.  “Respect will never follow recklessness,” he emphasized.

Calling upon all nations to degrade or cut diplomatic relations with Pyongyang, he underscored the need to isolate it financially, warning that the United States would not hesitate to sanction third-party countries and entities that directly funded the regime.  He also called upon Member States to suspend guest workers from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and to ban that country’s exports, especially coal.  Citing China’s economic leverage over Pyongyang, he said that he looked forward to further action to build on what China had already done.

All options, including military action, must remain on the table he said, emphasizing that the “new pressure campaign” must be implemented swiftly and be painful to Pyongyang’s interests.  Countries that may be disinclined to implement economic pressure must be reminded that the catastrophic effects of inaction would far outweigh any economic benefit, he said, stressing that “business as usual” was no longer an option.  Underlining the moral responsibility of denuclearizing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said helping the regime meant supporting cruelty and suffering.  The regime’s pursuit of a nuclear programme had never served its people, he said, pointing out that starvation had swept the land for far too long.  “It is time for us to take control of the situation.”

FUMIO KISHIDA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, said the threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ballistic missiles had reached a new level and was “not just hypothetical”.  Three such missiles had landed within Japan’s exclusive economic zone on 6 March, he noted, adding:  “These launches were meant to be a provocation.”  It was increasingly important in that context for countries in the region to strengthen their deterrence.  While there was no doubt that dialogue was needed to achieve a peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, dialogue was not possible while Pyongyang continued to advance its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.  “In order to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table, the international community must send a strong message that provocation comes at a high price, and that no bright future awaits North Korea without its denuclearization,” he emphasized.

Calling on all Member States to increase pressure on Pyongyang through rigorous and thorough implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions, he outlined a number of national efforts in that regard, including Japan’s severe restrictions on the flow of people, goods and funds, and its total ban on exports to, as well as imports from, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  “No State should allow itself to become a loophole in the North Korea sanctions regime,” he emphasized, calling on those that had not yet done so to submit national implementation reports to the Security Council Sanctions Committee on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Any further provocations, including nuclear tests, should be met promptly with an even more stringent Council resolution, he stressed.  On the humanitarian consequences of Pyongyang’s development of a ballistic missile programme at the expense of the welfare and basic needs of that country’s people, he said that country’s abduction of Japanese and other nationals constituted violations of fundamental human rights.

MANKEUR NDIAYE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Senegalese Abroad of Senegal, said the question of nuclear disarmament was among the top global priorities.  Senegal had always favoured the total eradication of nuclear weapons as the only way to protect the world from the devastation resulting from their use, including by non-State actors.  He condemned Pyongyang’s nuclear testing in the strongest terms, as well as the various ballistic tests it had conducted in violation of its international obligations.

Those actions clearly revealed Pyongyang’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and its desire to acquire a nuclear force, which not only posed a threat to the Peninsula, but was a grave violation of the non-proliferation regime, he said.  The many steps taken by the Security Council had neither convinced the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to “come back to its senses”, nor prevented the gradual enhancement and expansion of its nuclear capabilities.  It was important to stress that Pyongyang must respect its obligations and move towards dialogue and a negotiated political situation to the crisis, he said.

WANG YI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of China, said the recently escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula had caused widespread concern among the international community, and expressed hope that the parties could reach a consensus and more fully implement resolutions relating to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, thereby bringing the situation back on track for a negotiated solution.  No matter how the situation may change, the international community must remain committed to nuclear demilitarization and never waver in its commitment to that goal.  China opposed Pyongyang’s research, development and possession of nuclear weapons, he said, emphasizing that its position remained “rock firm”.  China called upon the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to stop its activities and recommit to its nuclear-demilitarization obligations, he said.

He went on to emphasize that the international community must remain committed to the path of dialogue, warning that the use of force would not create solutions, but could instead create bigger problems.  Dialogue was the sensible choice for all parties, and historically, whenever dialogue was taking place on the Peninsula, the situation had moved towards greater stability, he said.  However, since the end of dialogue and negotiations in 2008, the situation on the Peninsula had gradually spun out of control, he noted.  While emphasizing the indispensable need for a political settlement based on dialogue and negotiation, he underlined that China should not be the focal point for the problem on the Korean Peninsula, adding that responsibility for resolving the crisis did not reside in the hands of the Chinese.

The most urgent task was to stop the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s missile and nuclear development and to set aside the debate over who should be responsible for making the first move, he said.  The state of affairs on the Peninsula had not been caused by any single party, and nor was it realistic to request that any party take up alone the responsibility for resolving the situation.  China called upon all parties, including those directly concerned, to demonstrate sincerity and move towards dialogue, he said, urging all parties to remain calm and exercise restraint in order to avoid a miscalculation.  “There should be no double standards on this issue,” he cautioned, pointing out that the deployment by the United States of anti-missile technology in the Republic of Korea seriously undermined China’s strategic security and damaged trust among the parties on the Peninsula.

BORIS JOHNSON, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, said there could be no bigger danger to international peace and security than the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s “blood-curdling threats”.  A nation whose people had been reduced to starvation had dedicated its resources to developing nuclear missiles, he noted, declaring:  “Every one of those tests breaks Security Council resolutions.”  Calling on Member States to reject the regime’s claims of “moral equivalence”, he said the leadership must realize that their isolation only weakened their grip on power.

Calling for enforcement of the sanctions imposed on Pyongyang, he urged partners with direct influence on the regime to apply pressure.  The Russian Federation and China had a responsibility to use their influence to guide the leaders of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea towards peace.  Calling upon the Council to remember the horrors and human rights violations faced by the country’s people, he emphasized that Pyongyang must obey the United Nations and halt its nuclear and ballistic-missile programme.  “Only then can the Council be assured of a peace and security in the region.”

WORKINEH GEBEYEHU NEGEWO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, warned of the real danger that the situation in the Korean Peninsula could spiral out of control.  Describing Pyongyang’s activities as “extremely dangerous”, he reiterated his country’s condemnation of its missile launches and emphasized the critical importance of a lasting and comprehensive diplomatic solution.

“Dialogue has never been more urgent,” he continued, calling on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abide by the relevant Security Council resolutions.  It was important to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula in order to ensure that matters did not get out of hand, he said.  Ethiopia was in compliance with the relevant resolutions in order to exert pressure on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said, stressing the need to restore peace and security on the Korean Peninsula.

KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, said the Security Council must preserve its unity in working to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula.  The situation had worsened, he added, expressing concern about the five nuclear tests carried out by the regime.  “The sixth could be around the corner if we do not take real action to defuse tensions,” he warned.  All Member States must observe the sanctions regime and their obligations under relevant resolutions, he said, adding that denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula would not only ensure security there, but also in Central Asia and the broader Asia.

Condemning all use of nuclear weapons, he said that his country was still struggling with the effects of the cold war.  However, the closure of Soviet-era nuclear-test sites had been one of the proudest moments in Kazakhstan’s history, he said, adding that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must apply every effort to achieve that goal.  Kazakhstan’s non-nuclear status was promising, he said, recalling his country’s contribution to the talks on Iran’s nuclear programme.  Those talks had led to an agreement with the United States, he said, emphasizing the need for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to engage closely with the Asia-Pacific community in a comprehensive and holistic manner.

GENNADY GATILOV, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said that, without exaggeration, it was clear that the region’s peace had recently undergone a serious test and that the threat arising from that confrontation had moved to a whole new level.  Due to the “high muscle flexing”, the whole world was watching and wondering whether war was imminent, he noted, warning that one ill-thought-out move or misinterpretation could result in the most frightening and lamentable situation.  The Russian Federation was watching the situation with alarm and was united in condemning the actions of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which had resulted in a very dangerous dynamic, he emphasized.  The Russian Federation did not accept Pyongyang’s actions, and supported the Security Council’s sanctions resolutions, he said, calling upon Pyongyang to end its banned programmes and return to the non-proliferation regime.

At the same time, he continued, everyone should be clear that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would probably not give up on nuclear weapons as long as it felt that its security was threatened, he emphasized.  That was exactly how Pyongyang was likely to view the large-scale manoeuvres and exercises by its neighbours and the United States, he said, stressing that such actions undermined the military balance in the region.  On international sanctions, he said they should be viewed as a means to move the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea back towards negotiations, underlining that sanctions must not be used to suffocate that country economically, nor to exacerbate the humanitarian situation there.

Sanctions were part of the reason for the serious deterioration in the living conditions of that country’s people, he said, stressing that the current humanitarian situation proved that sanctions did not work.  It was clear that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was conducting itself in an inappropriate way, but at the same time, the option of force was completely unacceptable, he emphasized, warning that it could lead to catastrophic consequences for the Peninsula and North-East Asia as a whole.  Diplomatic tools should be maximized to the largest extent possible, he said, urging all parties to display calm and restraint, and not to undertake steps that could escalate tensions.  It would be impossible to move towards a negotiated situation without normalizing the general military and political situation, he stressed.

ANNIKA SÖDER, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, said that, in spite of repeated and unanimous condemnations by the Council and the adoption of a number of resolutions — leading to the United Nations system’s most rigorous sanctions regime — the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea persisted in accelerating its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.  Pyongyang continued to demonstrate blatant disregard for its international obligations and to threaten international peace and security, she said, noting that such actions were incompatible with the existing global norm against nuclear testing, embodied in the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

Urging Pyongyang to completely, verifiably and irreversibly dismantle its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, she emphasized the need for a regional security arrangement to realize that objective, adding that the existing sanctions must be duly implemented to have the desired effect.  “This is also a matter of credibility for the entire United Nations system,” she said, emphasizing that the implementation of sanctions remained insufficiently and highly inconsistent.  Sanctions alone would not resolve the situation, and diplomacy was crucial, she said, calling for “intensified and creative diplomatic efforts” to prepare for a peaceful, diplomatic and comprehensive solution.

BENEDETTO DELLA VEDOVA, Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear progress represented an exceptional threat to the international community, and vowed to continue implementing the sanctions regime in full, as a tool to change the behaviour of that country’s leadership.  Italy was ready to reinforce the sanctions regime in case of additional nuclear tests, if necessary, he said.  Noting that the Panel of Experts described implementation of the current sanctions regime as “insufficient and highly inconsistent”, he called on all Member States to reaffirm their commitment to abide rigorously by it.  As Chair of the Council’s committee established pursuant to resolution 1718 (2006) — informally known as the “1718 Committee” — Italy was committed to helping all Member States to implement the relevant resolutions fully, in particular resolutions 2270 (2016) and 2321 (2016), he said.  It was also organizing outreach meetings with United Nations regional groups to that end, in cooperation with the Panel of Experts.

VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine), citing the alarming persistence and “ever-growing obsession” of the leadership in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with pursuing its nuclear ambitions, warned that the world faced the prospect of a large-scale military confrontation as a result.  The existing sanctions regime did not appear to be effective in preventing Pyongyang from acquiring technologies, materials, equipment and financial resources for further development of its nuclear and missile programmes, and it continued to develop the tricks with which to evade sanctions.  Only robust steps on the Council’s part would end that country’s systematic violations of international law and eradicate the growing nuclear threat in North-East Asia, he said, emphasizing “we must not allow Pyongyang to continue to discredit the role of the Security Council in the context of global non-proliferation efforts”.  Expressing support for the further fostering of the defence capabilities of neighbouring States, including Japan and the Republic of Korea, he stressed the importance of addressing nuclear threats in any part of the globe, citing Pyongyang’s actions as part of a growing trend towards disregard for international law.  Nuclear disarmament was particularly important to Ukraine, given its own experience of confronting aggression from a nuclear-weapon State, he pointed out, recalling the brutal violations of international obligations — including the 1994 Budapest Moratorium — by a permanent Council member.

ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay) recalled that his country was a State that did not possess nuclear weapons, was a member of the first nuclear-free zone and was party to the nuclear non-proliferation agreement.  The use and threat of the use of nuclear weapons was a crime against humanity and a very severe threat to international law.  The only guarantee against the use of — or threat to use — such weapons was their total elimination, he emphasized.  Uruguay had vigorously condemned Pyongyang’s activities and would continue to do so if it persisted in pursuing a nuclear programme, he said, urging the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon its nuclear programme in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, and also to return to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the IAEA’s safeguards regime.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France), delivering a statement on behalf of Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had defied all interdictions by the Council and the repeated demands of the international community.  The clear, constant and rapid progression of Pyongyang’s proliferation programme, which brought it closer to obtaining a nuclear arsenal, was unacceptable, he emphasized.  That headlong rush forward could not continue, which was why the international community must react to each new development in order to avoid sending a message of encouraging impunity.

“We must be lucid,” he said, warning that the regime’s goal was clearly to become a nuclear-weapon State.  Tomorrow, any nation could be within reach of a Democratic People’s Republic of Korea missile, he warned.  It must not be forgotten that the development of Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic programmes had been at the expense of the well-being of their country’s people, he said.  Stressing that sanctions were not a goal in and of themselves, he said they should be viewed as a means to bring the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to reason and to acceptance of the Korean Peninsula’s de-nuclearization, he said, expressing concern, however, about the uneven implementation of the sanctions.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia), calling for nuclear disarmament in all corners of the world, condemned the nuclear tests carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Such actions were a threat to international peace and security, he said, calling for Security Council unity in facing the possibility of conflict on the Korean Peninsula.  Rejecting unilateral sanctions, he emphasized that the Council must focus on multilateral measures.  He urged all parties to avoid escalating rhetoric that could endanger the Korean Peninsula and the rest of the world.  The United States must avoid carrying out military exercises in the region to allow the resumption of negotiations.  The only solution to the conflict was a political one supported by regional actors, most notably China, he said, underlining that war would represent a failure of the Council, of policy and of diplomacy.  “We have the obligation to negotiate,” he emphasized, pointing out that the only ones who benefited from war were those for whom it generated profit.

AMR ABDELATTIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) expressed deep concern over the increasing tensions, and called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to comply fully with all its international commitments and eliminate all its nuclear weapons.  Warning against selectivity and double standards, he said that some States, in the service of political agendas, had broken the consensus around the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  The international community must be committed to dealing with all disarmament challenges in a fair and comprehensive manner, he emphasized.  Urging all parties to exercise restraint, he called on Pyongyang to respond to calls for a resumption of talks, adding that other actors must be willing to provide an environment suitable for a reconciliation that would promote the goals of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he said.

YUN BYUNG-SE, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, outlined progress made by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea over the last quarter of a century, including the exponential growth of its nuclear-weapon capabilities, from what had once been a few kilogrammes of plutonium to a “significant arsenal”; the rapid development of ballistic missiles of all types and ranges, which now threatened to reach every corner of the globe; and Pyongyang’s willingness actually to use weapons of mass destruction, as demonstrated by the recent assassination of Chairman Kim Jong Un’s half-brother with a chemical weapon.  Echoing the warning by some experts that the world was now facing its greatest nuclear emergency since the Cuban missile crisis, he warned that a nuclear-armed Pyongyang would disrupt the region’s security landscape significantly, dealing a fatal blow to the global non-proliferation regime and increasing the risk of nuclear material or related technology falling into the hands of terrorists.

“In order to avoid this nightmarish scenario, we must act now,” he stressed, adding: “We are racing against time.”  In that regard, “extraordinary times require extraordinary responses”, he said, calling for a new, Security Council-led approach that would not allow Pyongyang to dictate either the agenda or the timeline.  The international community had built and solidified a united front against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea over the past year, and the Republic of Korea had taken a number of unilateral measures in line with the Council’s efforts, he said.  “We are seeing evidence that sanctions are biting” by cutting off Pyongyang’s hard-currency income, deepening its diplomatic isolation and blocking its illicit activities on all fronts.  Calling on Member States to sustain those efforts, he said the Council should take punitive measures “proactively, not reactively” against future provocations.  They could include halting the export and supply of crude oil, completely cutting off hard-currency earnings by suspending all coal imports, for example, and seriously considering whether the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as a “serial offender”, qualified to be a Member of the United Nations.

“Let me be clear,” he said, “our goal is not to bring North Korea to its knees, but to bring it back to the negotiation table for genuine denuclearization.”  He added that “dialogue for the sake of dialogue” could not be an option, and the international community must break the vicious cycle of provocations, negotiations and rewards for Pyongyang’s bad behaviour.  Urging the international community not to lose sight of the threat posed by its chemical and biological weapons programme, he recalled that the world’s failure to counter Nazi ambitions in the first half of the twentieth century had led to the outbreak of the Second World War.  “If we do not respond to North Korea’s repeated provocations in a resolute manner, we will only further feed the appetite of the trigger-happy regime in Pyongyang,” he warned.  A sixth nuclear test or the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile would constitute a “game-changer for all of us”, he said, while stressing that his country’s deployment of defensive weapons was a transparent measure and not aimed at any country.  It could not be placed on a par with Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions, he stressed.

Mr. TILLERSON, Secretary of State of the United States, took the floor a second time, noting the repeated emphasis, throughout the meeting, on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s failure to honour its past commitments, and on the promises it had subsequently broken.  “We will not negotiate our way back to the negotiating table with North Korea,” he emphasized.  “We will not reward their bad behaviour with talks.”  The United States would only engage when Pyongyang exhibited a good-faith effort to end its nuclear programme.  Full and complete compliance by every country with every Security Council resolution was essential, he stressed, calling upon all countries to exert pressure on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  “This is how you make your voice heard.”

For information media. Not an official record.