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CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT BRIEFED ON THE DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF KOREA’S NUCLEAR AND BALLISTIC MISSILE PROGRAMMES AND THEIR THREAT TO INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY

30 August 2017

The Conference on Disarmament this afternoon heard presentations by military experts from the Republic of Korea, Japan and the United States on the dimensions of the threat that the nuclear and ballistic missile programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea represented to regional and international peace and security.  It also heard many States strongly condemn the latest ballistic missile launches conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Ambassador Julio Herraiz of Spain, President of the Conference on Disarmament, said that Ahmet Uzumcu, the Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, would address the plenary of the Conference on Tuesday, 5 September.

The Conference heard statements by the Republic of Korea, Japan, United States, Estonia on behalf of the European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Romania, Hungary, Israel, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Italy, Peru, Brazil, China, Poland, Ukraine, Netherlands, Slovakia, Russia, Mexico, Malaysia, Pakistan, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The next plenary will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 31 August.

Statements:

Republic of Korea said that the actions of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea were a threat to all United Nations Member States, and a matter of constant concern to the Conference on Disarmament.  In the wake of yesterday’s great provocation of “North Korea’s” ballistic missile flying over Japan, it was opportune to brief the Conference on the nuclear and missile threat of “North Korea”, which had the potential to be the greatest threat to world peace.

SEUNGHO PARK, Ministry of National Defense, Republic of Korea, reviewed why “North Korea’s” nuclear and missile programmes were a threat to world peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in northeast Asia, noting that since 1950, there had been 31,000 local provocations and infiltrations by “North Korea”.  Assessing the progress in nuclear and missile programmes, Mr. Park said that “North Korea” had conducted a total of five nuclear threats so far, namely in October 2006, May 2009, February 2013, January 2016 and September 2016, in which it had displayed a maximum of ten kilotons through those five nuclear tests; it was suspected of being in possession of about 50 kg of plutonium.  Given its nuclear programme progression, it was expected that “North Korea” was capable of producing nuclear weapons with six kilogrammes or less of plutonium and that it had made substantial progress in its highly enriched uranium programme.  “North Korea” would likely continue its attempt at securing a “de-facto nuclear state status” in the international community through additional nuclear tests and an increase in its nuclear arsenal.  In terms of “North Korea’s” nuclear strategy and doctrine, Mr. Park said that, as its nuclear capability progressed, it might no longer be limited to existential deterrence but would be capable of nuclear pre-emption at the operational level. 

Additionally, in May 2013, “North Korea” had introduced the Solidification of Nuclear State Status Act, which defined that the nuclear weapon could be employed by the final order of the “North Korean” leader, and legitimized the use of nuclear weapons to invasion and hostile acts against “North Korea”, thus expressing indirectly the possibility of a nuclear attack against the Republic of Korea-United States alliance.  In April and July 2017, “North Korea” had shocked the world by conducting test launches on ballistic missiles.  Mr. Park also addressed the countering posture of the Republic of Korea’s military to effectively deter and respond to “North Korea’s” nuclear and missile treats, saying that it was acquiring additional capabilities and postures, both through alliance capability and its own independent capabilities.  Mr. Park said, in closing, that “North Korea’s” nuclear and missile threats were not just a threat to the Republic of Korea, but to the more than two million foreigners from 30 different countries residing or staying in South Korea; therefore, now was the time to collect strength and wisdom to resolve the complicated problem of “North Korea’s” nuclear and missile programme. Ambassador of Japan said that it was important for the members of the Conference on Disarmament to be properly briefed and have a good understanding of the threat that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea presented to international peace and security. 

TOMOYUKI TONO, Ministry of Defence of Japan, in his briefing to the Conference, noted that after seceding from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in 2003, “North Korea” continued to conduct nuclear tests, which thus posed a major challenge to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  Considering the probable technical maturity gained through the five nuclear tests it had conducted, including the one in September 2016 when it had successfully exploded a nuclear warhead, it was possible that “North Korea” had already achieved the necessary miniaturization of the bombs and had actually completed its nuclear warheads.  This situation, and the improvements in its ballistic missile capabilities, significantly impaired peace and stability of the region, including Japan, and of the international community.  In July 2017, “North Korea” had twice launched an intercontinental range ballistic missile with the range of at least 5,500 km; at the same time, it continued to expand its military in an unparalleled scale and speed. 

In addition to increasing the pace and scale of the launches, “North Korea” also attempted to expand their ranges: the Taepodong-II variant, launched in February 2016, already acquired the capability to reach Europe, the Middle East and parts of Africa and North America, while those fired on 4 and 28 July, presumed to be Hwasong-14, were regarded to have an intercontinental range.  This meant that “North Korea’s” progress in nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles development had become a serious and imminent threat to the security of not only east Asia but the entire international community.  The improvement in the nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities justified the view that those security threats entered a new stage, in which the international community must closely cooperate in requiring “North Korea” to restrain its provocative actions and observe the relevant Security Council resolutions.  Japan had in place a defense posture, particularly its ballistic missile defence system, and engaged in joint military exercises with the United States armed forces, both of which contributed to and promoted regional security.  Nobody should overlook the vital importance of exerting diplomatic and economic pressure on “North Korea” through the implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions.  Military means could buttress the effort and it was necessary for Japan to foresee the possibility of unexpected and worrisome developments in the future and prepare for them in a reasonable way.

United States said that the Conference on Disarmament was not meeting today to debate the dangers posed by “North Korea’s” United Nations-proscribed nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.  The time for debate had long passed; those dangers were clear; and it was now time for concerted action.  “North Korea’s” proscribed programmes had advanced rapidly, far outpacing initial estimates and expectations; in response to the increasing threat, the United States, the Republic of Korea, and Japan had taken necessary measures to increase their capabilities to deter and defend against any attack from “North Korea”, and had redoubled diplomatic and economic efforts, together with the international community, to show “North Korea” that the only path to a secure, economically-prosperous future was to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.  But the efforts would only be successful with the full cooperation of the international community, and nations willing to use decisive leverage against “North Korea’s” increasingly dangerous and destabilizing actions.  The unrelenting pace of “North Korea’s” nuclear and ballistic missile tests demonstrated why the United States, the Republic of Korea, Japan and the partners must take timely action to deepen diplomatic and defensive military cooperation, said the Ambassador and stressed the collective responsibility of every country represented in the Conference, to hold nations accountable to their commitments to isolate the regime.  All United Nations Member States had a responsibility to fully implement United Nations Security Council resolution obligations and take additional actions to put diplomatic and economic pressure on “North Korea”.

United States’ policy toward “North Korea” was clear: it did not seek regime change, the collapse of the regime, an accelerated reunification of the peninsula, or an excuse to send troops north of the Armistice Agreement’s Military Demarcation Line.  “We do not seek to be a threat to the Kim Jong Un regime,” said the speaker, adding that the United States must respond to the serious threats made.  “We want to be clear to North Korea that the United States has the unquestionable ability and unbending will to defend itself, and its allies.” The United States remained open to talks aimed at denuclearization and had consistently stated its willingness to engage with Pyongyang; however, “North Korea’s” statements and its unlawful and escalatory actions sent a clear signal that Pyongyang had no interest in returning to serious dialogue at this time.  A sincere indication of a desire to negotiate in good faith would be the immediate cessation of its provocative threats, nuclear tests, missile launches and other weapons tests.  The United States was greatly concerned over the current situation and was committed to addressing the threat. 

MURZBAN MORRIS, Department of Defense Joint Staff of the United States, spoke of the United States strategies designed to counter the threat posed by “North Korea” and said that all measures taken by the United States and its allies to counter those provocative acts were commensurate, defensive and not designed to be provocative in nature.  The intensification of the nuclear and missile tests by “North Korea” demonstrated the need to continued defensive activities in the region.  The exercises being conducted were transparent and defensive in nature, and aimed at enhancing deterrence, strengthening regional cooperation and maintaining peace and security in the region.  Mr. Morris stressed the vulnerability of a number of capitals and major cities in the world to the nuclear threat posed by “North Korea”, including in Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa and North America.  It was important to note that the threat by “North Korea” was not a threat to the region; it was international and global and called for a multi-national response.

Estonia, on behalf of the European Union, shared the grave concern over the nuclear and ballistic missile programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and strongly condemned the actions which constituted outright violations of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s international obligations as set out in multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions.  The advancement of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes increased the threat to regional and international peace security, including European security.  The European Union urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to make credible progress on its obligations to denuclearise, defuse tensions, and enable negotiations and steps aimed at pursuing the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and the full implementation of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.

United Kingdom said that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was no longer a threat faced by a single country or region, but a very real, intercontinental threat that could reach a large part of the globe.  In a world where “North Korea” missile tests seemed routine, all must be reminded that this was not business as usual.  As the regime’s missile capabilities advanced, so did its contempt and disregard for its international commitments.  The international community must meet this belligerence with clear, unequivocal condemnation and with clear, unequivocal consequences.  “North Korea” had chosen the path it was on, which would lead, at a minimum, to the further suffering of its own people, and at most could prove to be catastrophic for the world.  But it did not have to be this way – “North Korea” should forgo the path of provocation and further escalation.  There was no reason why the people of “North Korea” could not share the normal, prosperous lives of their neighbours.  The international community must continue to speak with a unified voice to show it was ready to act in response to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea reckless pursuit of its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.  

Australia strongly condemned the latest ballistic missile launch which represented a serious escalation of the situation by Pyongyang and urged all countries to fully implement all United Nations Security Council resolutions.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s actions were a serious challenge to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  Australia urged all States to increase pressure on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and hoped that the latest United Nations Security Council resolution would force it to direct its scarce resources to the wellbeing of its people.  Australia continued to designate further individuals and entities for financial sanctions, including those engaged in arms dealing and weapons development in violation of Security Council resolutions.

Canada took seriously the threat to regional and international stability posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear programme, and associated activities.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea needed to return to compliance with international norms as the path it was on could have no positive ending.  Ways must be found to de-escalate the situation.  Canada firmly condemned the launching of the ballistic missile that flew over Japan which was a reckless violation of the territorial sovereignty of its neighbours and threatened regional and international peace and security.  “North Korea” should stop those provocations, respect its obligations and abandon its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

Romania stressed the need for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, in a verifiable manner, and strongly condemned the firing of the ballistic missile over Japan.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must immediately re-engage in a meaningful dialogue with the international community, in particular in the six-party talks.

Hungary condemned the latest ballistic missile tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and was concerned about its lack of respect for the United Nations Security Council resolutions.  The level of threat emanating from “North Korea” had reached the level at which it could not go unanswered by the international community, said Hungary and expressed its support for the establishment of a nuclear-free zone on the Korean peninsula.   Israel condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s provocative and destabilizing behaviour in violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions, and urged the international community to continue to engage on this issue in order to respond to this threat to international peace and security.

Belgium expressed grave concern over the developments in the Korean Peninsula and condemned the recent ballistic missile launch by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea over Japanese territory.  The presentations made in the Conference today clearly outlined the international threat that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea posed to regional and international peace and security.  Belgium reminded that the development by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea of the nuclear and ballistic missile programmes was illegal under international law, and urged this country to immediately stop its nuclear weapons programme in a verifiable and irreversible manner.  Belgium was firmly committed to the implementation of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, and in particular resolution 2371 of 5 August.  The objective for the international community must be the Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons.

Bulgaria was gravely concerned by the news that the latest ballistic missile had been launched over the territory of Japan and urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to take all steps to de-escalate the situation, and to stop the development of its nuclear weapons in a verifiable and irreversible manner.  The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the lasting peace in the region could only be found in a peaceful manner.

France was very concerned about the “North Korea” crisis and condemned all the provocations by this country.  France thanked the delegations of Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States for their presentations which clarified the scale of the threat posed by the “North Korea’s” nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.  France would continue to call for the implementation of uncompromising measures against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as it posed a nuclear threat to Europe as well.  Sharing its analysis of the situation, France said that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was capable of developing and detonating nuclear devices with considerable yield, while the quantitative and qualitative development of nuclear and ballistic missile programmes was accelerating, underscoring the political will of Pyongyang to develop a deterrent and be recognized as a de facto nuclear State.  The absolute strategic priority of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was to establish its rank in the world, guarantee the long-term survival of the regime, destabilize its adversaries and change the regional balance of power, as well as decouple the United States from its regional allies.  The implications of the actions by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea constituted a direct threat to the international security architecture, the non-proliferation regime, strategic stability and the global markets, said France.  At stake was the will to support and strengthen the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as a cornerstone of the international non-proliferation system, and the need to maintain international peace and security.  As the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was approaching the nuclear operational capacity, a possibility of a nuclear Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was no longer distant, said France and urged all to stand united and determined in maintaining the credibility and sustainability of the collective security architecture, in particular the non-proliferation regime.

Italy said it was following the situation on the Korean Peninsula with increasing concern and strongly condemned the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes which represented a violation of international law and United Nations Security Council resolutions.  Sanctions were not a goal in themselves, but an essential tool to convince the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to change its path.  Italy continued to work with other States on the full implementation of the sanctions.  The Permanent Mission of Italy in New York was organizing an open meeting with the membership, before the start of the General Assembly, to explain in deeper details the provisions of the United Nations Security Council resolution 2371.

Peru condemned the latest launch of the ballistic missile by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that had flown over Japan, which it regarded as a part of a systematic policy to violate the resolution which required a firm response by international community.  Faced by this serious threat to international peace and security, Peru restated its commitment to the implementation of sanctions imposed by the Security Council to ensure that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea complied with its international obligations with regard to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.      

Brazil strongly condemned the launch of ballistic missiles by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and considered the latest launch of the missile over Japan a provocation.

China said that the United Nations Security Council resolution contained clear provisions concerning the ballistic missile launch by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and urged this country to refrain from further launches.  China urged all States to exercise restraint and maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula.  It was essential for all parties to avoid any words or deeds that could exacerbate tensions and prolong the return of peace.  The key to a peaceful solution to the problems was in the hands of the parties involved, namely the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea.  It was hoped that those parties would demonstrate a genuinely responsible attitude towards their peoples and international security and choose a rational course of action.  China had long and persistently worked for a peaceful Korean peninsula and the search for a solution through dialogue.  The deployment of military capabilities raised tensions and rendered all issues more complicated and harder to tackle, said China and urged all parties to withdraw the related equipment.  China’s understanding of the situation was different from the Republic of Korea, and said that any obsession over history at this moment was counterproductive.

Poland was concerned by the latest missile test and said that the activities of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea constituted a violation of its international obligations, international peace and security and the international system of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

Ukraine resolutely condemned the new launch of the intercontinental ballistic missile by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea which represented a serious challenge to regional stability as it brazenly defied efforts to find a solution to current security challenges.  Ukraine called upon the leadership of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to re-start the dialogue with the international community.

Netherlands said that the continuous development of nuclear and ballistic missile programmes by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea represented a violation of international law and international peace and security.  The international community had a duty to fully implement the United Nations Security Council resolutions and the Netherlands would work tirelessly through the United Nations and the European Union on this matter.

Slovakia strongly condemned the ballistic missile tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on 28 August, in continued disregard of the international community, and with a potential for disturbing regional and international peace and security.

Russia said that the ballistic missile launch by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea represented a danger for people in the region, and called upon the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to stop its armament programme and return to the non-proliferation regime.  Members of the Security Council should seek a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to the problem of the Korean Peninsula which would not be solved through sanctions and pressure alone, as it did not provide an avenue to a constructive engagement with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  In the future, the Security Council resolutions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea must clearly state that a military solution to the Korean Peninsula was not possible.

Mexico, reading out a statement by the Government of Mexico, said that “North Korea’s” missile launch and the development of its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes stood in the way of multilateral efforts to bring about a climate of peace and cooperation on the Korean Peninsula and in north-east Asia.  “North Korea” must comply with the United Nations Security Council resolutions, cease the ballistic missile launches, and stop the development of nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

Malaysia said that the provocative actions by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would further aggravate the escalating tensions in the Korean Peninsula and represented a set-back to international efforts to find lasting peace in the region.  All parties must create conditions conducive to dialogue, in the interest of maintaining international peace and security, said Malaysia.

Pakistan read out the statement issued by Islamabad on 29 August concerning the latest ballistic missile launch by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in which it urged all parties to exercise restraint.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea strongly rejected the preposterous stories fabricated by the United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan, which saw the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s self-defence measures as a threat.  The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea did not feel the need to respond to the absurd allegations made, and stressed that the Conference on Disarmament must address the missile launches by the United Nations Security Council Member States.  The Washington regime had openly stated its intention to obliterate the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, thus the launch of the missile was a demonstration and a stern warning to the United States that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would protect its country’s sovereignty and the nation’s right to existence.  It was a just right of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea which no one could question, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would maintain its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes until the genuine nuclear threat against it was removed.

United States said that the Conference today had heard a clear global condemnation and indictment of “North Korea” for its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and activities.  The only alternative that “North Korea” was interested in was further isolation; if it wanted to return to the good graces of the international community, it knew what it had to do, but it seemed that there was no will for such a move.

Republic of Korea said that it was frustrating to get the same response from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea over and over again.  Many members of the Conference were clear in their message today that they would continue to work in order to stop “North Korea’s” nuclear programme.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said that if the United States persisted in its reckless attempts to stifle the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, it would not hesitate to respond to those measures.

For use of the information media; not an official record

DC17/030E

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