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ASG Khiari: "The lack of unity and action in the Security Council does little to slow the negative trajectory on the Korean Peninsula."




New York, 17 April 2023


Mr. President,

According to its official news agency, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) launched what it described as a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile on 13 April.  The DPRK said that it test-fired the ballistic missile – which it designated as Hwasong-18 – to confirm quote “the performance of the high-thrust solid-fuel engines for multi-stage missiles” end quote. 

It is the DPRK’s first launch of a long-range solid-fuel ballistic missile.  Solid-propellant missiles do not need to undergo fuelling prior to launch. They can thus be launched more quickly than liquid-propellant missiles. This also means that it may be more difficult to detect the preparation of a launch in a timely manner.

Mr. President,

The Secretary-General strongly condemns the launch of yet another long-range ballistic missile by the DPRK. 

The Secretary-General reiterates his calls on the DPRK to immediately desist from taking any further destabilising actions, to fully comply with its international obligations under all relevant Security Council resolutions, and to resume dialogue leading to sustainable peace and the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Mr. President,

The DPRK Foreign Ministry and Central Military Commission, the latter on 10 April, have warned of so-called “countermeasures” in response to military exercises in the region.  Earlier today, the Marshal of the Korean People's Army issued a statement opposing today’s meeting of the Council.

The DPRK continues to implement its five-year military development plan unveiled during the 8th Party Congress in January 2021. That plan provided for the development of specific capabilities, many involving the DPRK pursuing its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, in violation of the relevant Security Council resolutions. 

The DPRK claims to be hitting significant milestones on its five-year plan, including since our last briefing on 20 March.

For example, the plan included developing a new solid propellant intercontinental-range ballistic missile. The DPRK reportedly achieved this with the launch on 13 April.

That plan also provided for the development of multiple warheads; tactical nuclear weapons; a military reconnaissance satellite; new unmanned aerial systems; and a “hypersonic gliding flight warhead”.

In line with its five-year plan, the DPRK greatly increased its missile launch activities in 2022 and 2023, including more than 80 launches using ballistic missile technology. The DPRK characterised these launches as involving systems with nuclear weapon roles, including so-called “tactical” nuclear weapons. Most of the systems it tested are capable of striking countries in the immediate region. The systems it tested on 13 April, 16 March and 18 February, as well as on two occasions last year, are capable of reaching most points on the Earth.

The DPRK did not issue airspace or maritime safety notifications for any of these launches. Despite the DPRK claiming otherwise, unannounced launches represent a serious risk to international civil aviation and maritime traffic.

Mr. President,

Key peace and security issues, such as the Korean Peninsula, must be an area for cooperation. We welcome the Security Council’s commitment, as expressed in resolution 2397 (2017), to a peaceful, comprehensive, diplomatic, and political solution to the situation on the Korean Peninsula, as well as the importance the Council has placed on working to reduce tensions. Diplomacy – not isolation - is the only way forward. 

The lack of unity and action in the Security Council does little to slow the negative trajectory on the Korean Peninsula. The DPRK is unconstrained, and other parties are compelled to focus on military deterrence.

As the Council considers its options, there are several practical steps that could reduce tensions, reverse the dangerous dynamic, and create space to explore diplomatic avenues.

First, the DPRK needs to take immediate steps to resume dialogue leading to sustainable peace and the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. This should include the DPRK refraining from carrying out further launches using ballistic missile technology or nuclear tests. 

Second, the DPRK to resume communication channels, including military to military.  The DPRK has been unresponsive to daily routine calls via inter-Korean communication lines since 7 April. It is critical to avoid an unintended escalation.

Third, reducing confrontational rhetoric will help to lower political tensions and create space to explore diplomatic avenues.

Mr. President,


Separately, I wish to highlight once more our concerns regarding the humanitarian situation in the DPRK. The United Nations is ready to assist the DPRK in addressing medical and other basic needs of vulnerable populations. We welcome the return of diplomats from one Member State to Pyongyang on 27 March. We reiterate our call on the DPRK to allow the unimpeded entry of international staff, including the Resident Coordinator, and of humanitarian supplies, to enable a timely and effective response.

Mr. President, let me close by stressing again that the unity of the Security Council on the DPRK is essential to ease tensions and overcome the diplomatic impasse.  The primary responsibility for international peace and security rests with this Council.

The Secretariat is your partner in this effort.  We remain in close contact with all key parties, including the DPRK, and are ready to seize opportunities whenever the conditions are right to make a difference.  As we speak, the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, is on a visit to Northeast Asia. The Secretary-General’s good offices and our convening power are always available. 

Thank you, Mr. President.