According to various government sources, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) launched a ballistic missile at approximately 7:23 a.m. local time on 4 October. The missile, which has not been publicly acknowledged by the DPRK, was reportedly launched from the northern province of Jagang, covered a range of 4,500 km, and reached an apogee of around 970 km. It marks the first time the DPRK has launched a ballistic missile over Japanese territory since 15 September 2017.
Mr. President, the Secretary-General strongly condemns the DPRK’s launch of a long-range ballistic missile. This was a reckless act and a clear violation of relevant Security Council resolutions. This launch risks triggering a significant escalation of tensions in the region and beyond. It is of serious concern that the DPRK has again disregarded any consideration for international flight or maritime safety.
The Secretary-General calls on the DPRK to immediately cease any further destabilising acts and to comply fully with its international obligations under relevant Security Council resolutions. The Secretary-General urges the DPRK to take steps to resume dialogue with a key parties concerned with a view to achieving sustainable peace and the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Mr. President, there have been other troubling developments since we last briefed the Council on 11 May, in addition to the launch yesterday, the DPRK launched systems with the apparent characteristics of short-range ballistic missiles on 25 September, 28 September, 29 September, and 1 October.
On 12 September, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency – IAEA - reported that there were indications that the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site remained active and prepared to support a nuclear test. The IAEA added that they continued to observe construction activities at the Yongbyon nuclear facilities as well as indications that the 5-megawatt nuclear reactor was operating.
The Secretary-General is deeply concerned by the adoption on 8 September of the Law on the “DPRK’s Policy on the Nuclear Forces” by the Supreme People’s Assembly. Increasing the role and significance of nuclear weapons in security doctrines is contrary to decades of efforts by the international community to reduce and eliminate nuclear risks.
While some States continue to rely on nuclear weapons in their security policies, nuclear weapons pose an existential threat to humanity. Their continued existence heightens the risk of unintended escalation or miscalculation. We must strengthen our efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons.
Mr. President, the Secretary-General urges the DPRK to reset the course to dialogue and build on previous diplomatic efforts. He reaffirms his commitment to working with all parties for sustainable peace and the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. He welcomes and encourages the regular contact and cooperation among the key parties and commends them for their willingness to engage in dialogue with the DPRK without preconditions.
Mr. President, the Secretary-General, at the same time and separately, remains concerned over the humanitarian situation in the DPRK. The United Nations system, in coordination with international and humanitarian partners, is ready to send staff and assistance to help the DPRK Government address medical and humanitarian needs, including those related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To allow for a timely and effective response, we reiterate our call for the unimpeded entry of international staff and humanitarian supplies. We also acknowledge the work of Member States toward resolving the banking channel for humanitarian operations.
Mr. President, let me close by reiterating that the unity of the Security Council in this matter is essential to ease tensions, overcome the diplomatic impasse and avoid a negative action-reaction cycle.