Security Council Condemns Launch of Possible Intercontinental Ballistic Missile by Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Urging End to Provocative Actions

SC/12902
5 July 2017
7996th Meeting (PM)

Security Council Condemns Launch of Possible Intercontinental Ballistic Missile by Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Urging End to Provocative Actions

United States Declares Readiness to Use All Capabilities as China, Russian Federation Reject Force, Urging Immediate Moratorium on Military Exercises

Condemning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile with possible intercontinental capability, Security Council members urged Pyongyang today immediately to cease any and all provocative actions that could further exacerbate tensions on the already fraught Korean Peninsula.

The representative of the United States warned that her country was prepared to use the full range of its military and other capabilities to defend itself and its allies.  “We will use them if we must,” she said in response to Tuesday’s missile launch.  Noting that some countries were encouraging trade with Pyongyang in violation of Security Council resolutions, while also hoping to continue trade arrangements with the United States, she stressed:  “That is not going to happen,” noting that 90 per cent of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s trade was with China.

She said her delegation would soon submit a draft resolution aimed at raising the international response in proportion to Pyongyang’s escalation.  If unified, the international community could cut off major sources of hard currency for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, restrict oil to its military, increase air and maritime restrictions, and hold its senior officials accountable.  The United States would also look at any country doing business with that outlaw regime.  “The world is on notice,” she said.  “If we act together, we can rid the world of a grave threat.”

That representative and other Council members spoke after a briefing by Miroslav Jenča, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, who said that, according to the official news agency, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had launched a ballistic missile near the Panghyon airfield in the north-west of the country.  It had covered 933 kilometres and reached an altitude of 2,802 kilometres before falling into the sea after a 39-minute flight.  By those parameters, the projectile would have a range of roughly 6,700 kilometres if launched on a more typical trajectory, he said.  That marked it as an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The representative of the Republic of Korea urged Pyongyang to “no longer test” his country and the international community.  Provocations would only strengthen the latter’s resolve, he said, urging Pyongyang to realize that its “obsessive pursuit” of nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and its continued provocations would only worsen its diplomatic isolation and deepen its economic plight.  Given the gravity of the issue, the international community must once again demonstrate strong resolve not to tolerate Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programme, he stressed.  “This is the last opportunity for the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] to chart a new beginning in inter-Korean relations, as well as in its relations with the international community.”  He called upon that country to renounce its nuclear brinksmanship and step back from “the point of no return”.

Japan’s delegate described the missile launch as “totally unacceptable”, emphasizing:  “Japan will never accept a nuclear-armed [Democratic People’s Republic of] Korea.”  With the missile having landed within Japan’s exclusive economic zone, he said, the provocation made clear that the circumstances were not right for dialogue with Pyongyang, which left no choice other than joint action to increase pressure on the regime.

The Russian Federation’s representative pressed Pyongyang to declare a moratorium on nuclear and ballistic missile testing, and the United States and Republic of Korea to refrain from conducting full joint military exercises.  Instead, discussions could reaffirm the principles of non-use of force, peaceful coexistence and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.  Pyongyang and Seoul should demonstrate good will, foster cooperation towards a peaceful solution, play their respective roles in de-escalating tensions on the Peninsula, and resolve all pending issues.  He objected to the presence of some military forces in North-East Asia and the deployment of systems under the pretext of countering Democratic People’s Republic of Korea military programmes, warning that any attempts to justify a military solution and economically strangle Pyongyang would be “inadmissible”.  Humanitarian efforts must be depoliticized and Pyongyang’s security concerns considered, he stressed.

China’s representative strongly urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abide by Council resolutions and stop any action that would exacerbate tensions.  He also called on all concerned to avoid provocative acts, demonstrate the will for unconditional dialogue and work together to diffuse tensions.  China and the Russian Federation had agreed that the nuclear issue could be resolved through dialogue and consultations.  Their joint statement expressed their common concern and aimed to address symptoms and root causes; it was objective, fair and reasonable.  China had always insisted on denuclearization through dialogue and consultation, he said, stressing that military means must not be an option.  The deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence anti-missile system in North-East Asia had undermined regional security interests, including those of China, and was not conducive to regional peace and stability.

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

The meeting began at 3:02 p.m. and ended at 4:20 p.m.

Briefing

MIROSLAV JENČA, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had launched a ballistic missile at approximately 9 a.m. local time on 4 July, according to the country’s official news agency and various other governmental sources.  According to Pyongyang, the missile had been launched near the Panghyon airfield in the north-west of the country and had covered 933 kilometres during a 39-minute flight, reaching an altitude of 2,802 kilometres before falling into the sea.  By those parameters, the missile would have a range of roughly 6,700 kilometres if launched on a more typical trajectory, which marked it as an intercontinental ballistic missile, according to widely used definitions, he said, noting that, once again, Pyongyang had not sent pre-launch notifications to international organizations responsible for air space and maritime safety.

Calling upon the leadership of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to cease further provocative actions and comply fully with international obligations, he urged the international community to maintain unity in addressing the serious new challenge.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must stop actions that were in violation of Security Council resolutions and allow space for the resumption of sincere dialogue.  All parties must work to reopen channels of communication, particularly military-to-military channels, in order to lower the risk of miscalculation or misunderstanding, he stressed.  In light of the escalating security situation in the region, the United Nations and partners must play a critical role in saving the lives of the most vulnerable people in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said, underlining also that Council members must distinguish between political and humanitarian concerns.  The Council must support life-saving activities carried out by humanitarian organizations in the country, he added.

Statements

NIKKI HALEY (United States) said the actions of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had made the world more dangerous, describing the missile launch as a reckless and irresponsible act by the same vicious dictator who had sent a young student in an unresponsive state back to his parents in the United States, one of millions whom Pyongyang had tortured or deprived of human rights.  The regime’s nature was clear, only the scale of the damage it did could become different, she said.  The United States sought the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, she said.  “Make no mistake:  [the Democratic People’s Republic of] Korea’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile is a clear and sharp military escalation.”  That country had stated its intention to strike the United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan, she said, warning that the escalation threatened all nations and that Pyongyang’s actions were quickly closing off the possibility of a diplomatic solution.

She went on to underline that the United States was prepared to use the full range of its capabilities to defend itself and its allies, including its military forces.  “We will use them if we must,” she said, while also citing trade capabilities.  Noting that some countries were encouraging trade with Pyongyang in violation of Council resolutions, although they also wished to continue trade arrangements with the United States, she stressed:  “That is not going to happen.”  In the coming days, the United States would submit a draft resolution aimed at raising the international response in proportion to Pyongyang’s escalation, and if unified, the international community could cut off its major sources of hard currency, restrict oil to its military, increase air and maritime restrictions, and hold senior regime official accountable.  The United States would also look at any country that did business with that outlaw regime, she said, emphasizing that its latest missile launch demanded an escalation of economic and diplomatic responses.  “The world is on notice,” she said.  “If we act together, we can rid the world of a grave threat.”  Much of the burden of enforcing sanctions lay with China, she said, pointing out that Pyongyang enjoyed 90 per cent of its trade with that country.

YASUHISA KAWAMURA (Japan) said the missile launch was “totally unacceptable”, adding that his country had lodged a strong protest in its immediate aftermath and condemned it in the strongest terms.  Demanding that Pyongyang immediately cease all ballistic missile and nuclear development programmes, he declared:  “Japan will never accept a nuclear-armed [Democratic People’s Republic of] Korea.”  The missile had landed within Japan’s exclusive economic zone, 300 kilometres off the Oga Peninsula, where the presence of fishing vessels at sea demonstrated the dangerous and irresponsible nature of the launch.  The most recent provocation made clear that the circumstances were not right for dialogue with Pyongyang, which left no choice other than joint action to increase pressure on the against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, notably thorough implementation of Council resolutions.  Pressing the Council to send a message that Pyongyang must change, he said the missile launch required a swift response in the form of a resolution imposing robust sanctions.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) said Pyongyang’s continuing reckless behaviour confirmed its desire to flout the Council’s authority.  Condemning the missile launch, he said all actions by that Government fuelled a dangerous pattern of instigation.  Regional countries were under direct threat, he said, reiterating his country’s solidarity with them.  “Make no mistake:  everyone around this table is under threat.”  The launch followed previous nuclear testing and was also an unabashed assault on the non-proliferation regime.  Acknowledging that sanctions were not an end in and of themselves, he nevertheless emphasized the need for a decisive collective response.  The deliberate violation of Council decisions could not be the subject of bargaining, he said, urging Pyongyang to demonstrate its willingness to invest in a negotiated solution.  The international community must reiterate its commitment to the full, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, he said.  France would continue to pursue new robust measures, including within the European Union.

MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) said that Pyongyang had conducted an unprecedented number of ballistic-missile tests in 2017.  The Council must note that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea wished to threaten certain States, as well as the entire world.  “Our response must be strong and clear,” he stressed, calling on the international community to redouble its efforts to address the growing challenge on the Korean Peninsula.  Amid reports of hardship among its people, Pyongyang should focus on their well-being rather than launching illegal missiles.  The United Kingdom would continue to seek strong enforcement options.  “Increased vigilance is needed,” he stressed.  The primary responsibility lay with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, but the wider international community must toughen its resolve to address the serious challenge.  He also urged Council members to start work immediately on a new Security Council resolution on the matter.

OLOF SKOOG (Sweden), condemning Wednesday’s test in the strongest possible terms, called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to cease all development of its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programme and to take immediate steps towards its complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement.  Emphasizing that the Council’s unity on the issue was of utmost importance, he said that the implementation of sanctions against Pyongyang remained insufficient and highly inconsistent and called on all Member States to do their utmost in that regard.  As there was no military solution to the situation on the Korean Peninsula, redoubled efforts to build confidence, avoid further escalation and take steps to prepare for a peaceful, diplomatic and comprehensive solution were urgently needed.  “Tensions have risen in recent months and the potential for mistakes, misunderstanding and miscalculation is high,” he warned, adding that creating of a regional security mechanism should be the midterm goal.

IHAB MOUSTAFA AWAD MOUSTAFA (Egypt) expressed great concern over the increased escalation and tensions on the Korean Peninsula, which represented one of the main threats to international peace and security.  He called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to fully comply with relevant Security Council resolutions, eliminate its nuclear arsenal and join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear State.  Egypt would do all it could to implement sanctions against Pyongyang and it would continue to support all efforts to achieve peace and reunification on the Korean Peninsula.  He called on the international community and the Security Council to deal with the challenge in a comprehensive, non-selective manner.  All parties must exercise restraint, he said, noting some of the proposals put forth by China to diffuse tensions.  For its part, Pyongyang must cooperate with all relevant actors and cease actions that escalated tensions.

SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy) said the last missile launch was particularly worrisome as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had claimed to have reached its objective of acquiring an intercontinental missile.  Escalation on the Korean Peninsula posed a serious threat to international peace and security, he added, calling on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear aspirations.  The international community had a responsibility to maintain a high level of pressure on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Italy, in its national capacity, would continue to work to create additional steps.  Noting the worrying plight of the North Korean people, he said that civilians there continued to be highly vulnerable as a consequence of the regime’s policy.  New restrictive measures must not have any negative consequences on civilians.  Pressure must be aimed at changing the behaviour of the leadership in Pyongyang.  He also stressed the importance of maintaining an open channel for dialogue.

FODÉ SECK (Senegal) condemned the intercontinental ballistic-missile launch in the firmest terms.  “Without a doubt, this is a game-changer”, demonstrating that after methodically pursuing missile programmes, Pyongyang was more determined than ever to acquire nuclear power, he said.  The claimed intention was to develop a nuclear weapon, which had fanned tensions in the region and beyond, and the launch constituted a grave threat to maritime and air security in a densely populated region and one of the world’s most travelled air spaces, he noted.  The People’s Democratic Republic of Korea continued to flout the Council’s appeals, which meant that it must now take action, he said, suggesting that dialogue and sanctions could go hand in hand in a discrete manner.  Since there could be no military solution to the problems on the Korean Peninsula, Senegal called for a comprehensive solution, he said, adding that his delegation would work on a text containing appropriate measures.

OLENA SYROTA (Ukraine) said the missile launch contributed enormously to the growing threat in the region, adding that despite diplomatic efforts, there had been “no signs whatsoever” of Pyongyang’s intention to change its behaviour.  the Its activities raised a number of questions, such as whether the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea heard the Council’s signals, whether those signals were strong and clear enough, and how much time was left before an intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with a nuclear warhead was deployed successfully.  The Council should use every instrument at its disposal to ensure full implementation of its decisions, she said, emphasized that the existing sanctions regime appeared insufficient.  Indeed, the Council should find ways to raise the pressure on Pyongyang since only robust decisions would end that country’s systematic and brutal violations of international law.  Ukraine supported further fostering of the defence capabilities of neighbouring States, she said, stressing “we cannot wait until the next test or missile launch”.  Challenges must be addressed collectively, decisively and without further delay.

ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay) condemned the launch in the strongest terms, calling on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon its nuclear programme in a complete and verifiable manner.  Its actions violated myriad Council resolutions and it must give up its nuclear intentions, thereby paving the way for dialogue towards denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.  Describing the use of nuclear weapons as a crime against humanity and a violation of international law, he said total elimination was the only guarantee against their use.  While the United Nations membership was “racing against the clock” to adopt a treaty banning nuclear weapons, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and other nuclear Powers were, regrettably, not participating, he noted, emphasizing that the goal of a safer world was a responsibility to be borne equally.  Pyongyang’s inability to pursue a peaceful solution only inflamed the situation.  The Council must a find workable course of action to ensure the resumption of dialogue, he said.

VLADIMIR SAFRONKOV (Russian Federation) said that a ballistic missile had appeared on a Russian rocket-launch warning system and it had been established, on the basis of technical monitoring, that the parameters of the target were in line with the tactile criteria for a mid-range ballistic missile.  “We find this action to be inadmissible,” he said, drawing attention to the joint Russian Federation-China statement of 4 July.  The two countries had urged Pyongyang to comply with Council resolutions and had shared their concerns over the escalation of military and political tensions on the Korean Peninsula, he said, adding that the international community must take collective measures to resolve the issues through dialogue.  However, the Russian Federation objected to any action that could lead to a hardening of antagonisms.

He went on to explain that the joint initiative was based on China’s proposed mutual suspension of military exercises and mutual progress towards denuclearization, and called for the creation of a “peace mechanism”.  He pressed Pyongyang to declare a moratorium on nuclear and ballistic-missile testing, and the United States and the Republic of Korea to refrain from conducting full joint military exercises.  Instead, discussions could reaffirm the principles of non-use of force, peaceful coexistence and denuclearization of the Peninsula, he said, adding that all interested parties could create peace and security mechanisms leading to the normalized relations.  The Russian Federation would continue to ensure a balanced approach in addressing all concerns through dialogue and consultations, he said, while emphasizing that the possibility of military measures should be excluded.

Urging Pyongyang and Seoul to demonstrate good will, cooperate in seeking a peaceful solution, play their roles to de-escalate tension on the Peninsula and resolve all pending issues, he stressed that alliances should never be made to the detriment of third parties.  The Russian Federation objected to the presence of some military forces in North-East Asia under the pretext of countering Pyongyang’s military programmes, he said, calling upon the relevant sides to cancel the deployment process.  Calling for measures that would strike a strategic balance in the region, he warned that any attempt to justify a military solution were be inadmissible, as were attempts to strangle the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea economically.  Humanitarian efforts must be depoliticized, he added, underlining that sanctions would not resolve the issues.  Pyongyang’s security concerns must be considered.

RENÉ FERNÁNDEZ REVOLLO (Bolivia) condemned the launch of the ballistic missile and called on Pyongyang to abandon its illegal nuclear programme.  All sides must refrain from taking action that could further escalate tensions, including unilateral steps, and from pursuing any measures that violated international law.  He expressed support for the proposal for the suspension of Pyongyang’s nuclear missile programme, as well as military exercises by the Republic of Korea.  There could be no military solution to the conflict, he stressed.  All sides must maintain dialogue.

MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia) noted the dangerous escalation of the situation.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must cease provocative action on the Korean Peninsula, she said, underscoring the need for a lasting diplomatic solution to the tensions.  Pyongyang must abide by all relevant Security Council resolutions.  The latest launch was a reminder that the full implementation of all Security Council resolutions by all Member States was more critical than ever.

KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan) said the North Korean regime continued to develop its nuclear missiles, which was totally unacceptable to the wider international community.  Pyongyang must take a different path.  He urged Council members to stand united on the issue and develop a comprehensive, balanced approach.  The Council must maintain the sanctions regimes.  For its part, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must abandon its nuclear programme.  Kazakhstan would stand ready to support any initiative that would lead to peace on the Korean Peninsula.

LIU JIEYI (China), Council President for July, spoke in his national capacity, describing the launch as a flagrant and unacceptable violation of Council resolutions.  China strongly urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abide by Council resolutions and to refrain from any action that could exacerbate tensions.  China also called upon all concerned to avoid provocative actions, demonstrate willingness to enter into unconditional dialogue, and work together to defuse tensions.  China and the Russian Federation had agreed that the nuclear issue could be resolved through dialogue and consultations, and their joint statement expressed their common concern about the Korean Peninsula.

The joint initiative was based on China’s dual-track approach, he explained.  Given the complex situation on the Peninsula and the fact that dialogue was at a standstill, the joint statement aimed to address symptoms and root causes, and to take integrated measures, he said, describing it as objective, fair and reasonable.  China hoped it would enjoy international support and open a realistic route towards resolving the problem.  China had always insisted on denuclearization through dialogue and consultation, he said, adding that his country opposed chaos and that military means must not be an option.  Deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence antimissile system in North-East Asia undermined regional security interests, including those of China, and was not conducive to regional peace and stability, he emphasized, urging the countries concerned to cancel its deployment.

CHO TAE-YUL (Republic of Korea), expressing deep regret and profound disappointment that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had responded to his country’s repeated calls for dialogue with an even more serious provocation, condemned that action in the strongest terms and urged Pyongyang to “no longer test” the Republic of Korea and the international community.  Those provocations would only strengthen the latter’s resolve and be met with a more resolute response, he said, urging Pyongyang to realize that its “obsessive pursuit” of nuclear and missile programmes and its continued provocations would worsen it diplomatic isolation and deepen its economic plight.

Given the urgency and gravity of the issue, he urged the international community to once again demonstrate its strong resolve not to tolerate the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programme, adding that it required global action.  In that regard, he referred to the Council’s previously expressed determination to take “further significant measures” in the event of another test or launch, stressing that they included a new sanctions resolution and the swift, full and thorough implementation of such measures in order to bring Pyongyang back to credible denuclearization negotiations.  “This is the last opportunity for the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] to chart a new beginning in inter-Korean relations, as well as in its relations with the international community,” he stressed, calling on the country to renounce its nuclear brinksmanship and step back from “the point of no return”.

Ms. HALEY (United States) took the floor a second time to point out that both the Secretary-General and Pyongyang had stated that an intercontinental ballistic missile had been launched.  Offering to provide confirming intelligence to the Russian Federation, she noted that the Council repeatedly passed resolutions, yet nothing happened.  She invited countries that were “happy” with Pyongyang to veto an upcoming draft resolution, and those viewing its actions as a threat to vote with the international community to strengthen sanctions.  “If you choose not to, we will go our own path,” she said, adding that not joining together made no sense.  Emphasizing that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had shown no care for the Russian Federation or China, she declared:  “They’re not going to listen to anything you say.”  Opposing sanctions or defying a new resolution was tantamount to “holding the hands of Kim Jong-un”.

Mr. SAFRONKOV (Russian Federation) said his country proposed working together, adding that a solution to the situation could only be found by calibrating regional and international efforts.  Pointing out that sanctions were no “cure-all”, he emphasized the need to seek a political solution, to be creative in diplomacy, and to work collectively.

For information media. Not an official record.