UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL ROSEMARY A. DICARLO’S
REMARKS TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL ON
New York, 2 June 2023
At 6:37 am local time on 31 May, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) launched what it described as a military reconnaissance satellite from the Sohae Satellite Launching Station.
The rocket crashed off the Korean Peninsula’s western coast after losing thrust following the separation of its first and second stages.
The DPRK attributed the failure of the launch to the low reliability of an unspecified “new-type engine system and fuel.” Official media said the country would conduct a second launch as soon as possible.
On 30 May, the DPRK sent a pre-launch notification to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Other international organisations, including the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) were not notified.
As the DPRK affirms, it is the right of a sovereign state to launch a satellite and to benefit from space activities. However, Council resolutions expressly prohibit the DPRK from conducting any launches using ballistic missile technology.
On 30 May, the Secretary-General strongly condemned the DPRK’s satellite launch using ballistic missile technology.
He called on the DPRK to refrain from conducting further satellite launches using such technology and to swiftly resume dialogue to achieve the goal of sustainable peace and the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
The last time the DPRK conducted a similar launch was on 7 February 2016. In its resolution 2270 (2016), the Security Council condemned that launch, in which ballistic missile technology was used, in violation of relevant resolutions.
On 29 May, the Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party of Korea justified the need for the DPRK to launch a military reconnaissance satellite as a response to ongoing military exercises in the region.
It should be recalled that developing a military reconnaissance satellite was part of the DPRK’s five-year military development plan. That plan was unveiled during the 8th Party Congress in January 2021, well before the resumption of military exercises in the region.
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.
Pyongyang characterised these launches as involving systems with nuclear weapon roles, including so-called “tactical” nuclear weapons.
Further, the DPRK has continued to make references to the possible use of nuclear weapons since our last briefing.
Separately, we have been following reports that illicit cyber activities attributed to DPRK-affiliated actors continue.
According to the final report of the Panel of Experts submitted pursuant to resolution 2627 (2022), DPRK-affiliated actors stole more in cryptocurrency in 2022 than ever before.
Key peace and security issues, such as the situation on 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.
Diplomacy – not isolation - is the only way forward.
However, 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.
I would like to highlight once more our concerns regarding the humanitarian situation in the DPRK. The United Nations is ready to assist the DPRK in addressing 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 United Nations Resident Coordinator, and of humanitarian supplies, to enable a timely and effective response.
Let me close by stressing that the Secretary-General remains firmly committed to achieving the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.
He welcomes the recent re-affirmation by the Republic of Korea of its commitment to its obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Thank you, Madam President.