ASSISTANT SECRETARY-GENERAL KHALED KHIARI’S
REMARKS TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL ON
New York, 25 August 2023
At 3:50 AM local time on 24 August, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) conducted what it described as its “second launch of a military reconnaissance satellite” from the Sohae Satellite Launching Station. The launch follows a previous attempt to launch a satellite on 31 May.
According to the DPRK, the launch failed “due to an error in the emergency blasting system during the third-stage flight”. Official media said that a third reconnaissance satellite launch would be conducted in October.
While the DPRK issued a pre-launch notification to the Japanese Coast Guard, it did not issue airspace or maritime safety notifications to the International Maritime Organization, the International Civil Aviation Organization, or the International Telecommunications Union. The DPRK’s unannounced launches represent a serious risk to international civil aviation and maritime traffic.
On 24 August, the Secretary-General strongly condemned this launch of yet another satellite using ballistic missile technology. Any launch by the DPRK using ballistic missile technology is contrary to the relevant Security Council resolutions. He reiterated his call on the DPRK to cease such acts and to swiftly resume dialogue without preconditions to achieve the goal of sustainable peace and the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
It should be recalled that developing a military reconnaissance satellite was part of the DPRK’s five-year military development plan, unveiled in January 2021. In line with the plan, the DPRK has significantly increased its missile launch activities in 2022 and 2023, including more than 90 launches using ballistic missile technology, in violation of the relevant Security Council resolutions.
As we have previously briefed, there is a need for practical measures to reduce tensions, reverse the dangerous dynamic, and create space to explore diplomatic avenues. I emphasise the importance of re-establishing communication channels, particularly between military entities. Exercising maximum restraint is critical to avoid unintended escalation.
Diplomacy and dialogue - not isolation - is the only way forward.
In this respect, the Secretary-General commends Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the United States for their continued willingness and offers to engage in dialogue with the DPRK on any issue without preconditions.
Pending the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, it is imperative that the DPRK maintains the highest level of safety at its nuclear facilities, in order to prevent nuclear accidents that would be disastrous for the region and the world.
The Security Council in its resolution 2397 (2017) reaffirmed its decisions that the DPRK shall suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile programme, abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner, and immediately cease all related activities. Since our last briefing on 13 July, the DPRK has openly displayed its nuclear-weapon delivery systems during both a weaponry exhibition and a military parade. Such displays undermine the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) that underpins it.
I would like to highlight once more our concerns regarding the humanitarian situation in the DPRK, compounded by climate hazards and ongoing border closures. The United Nations is ready to assist the DPRK in addressing the basic needs of its vulnerable populations.
We have been closely following reports of an easing of DPRK border restrictions. Given the progress in vaccines and treatments, and the declaration by the World Health Organization Director-General on 5 May that COVID-19 no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, we urge the DPRK to allow the unimpeded re-entry and rotation of the international community, including the United Nations Resident Coordinator and other international UN staff.
A collective return would positively impact international support to the people of DPRK and strengthen communication channels.
Let me close by stressing that unity of the Security Council is essential.
Thank you, Madam President.