“Here we are once again, finding ourselves in an emergency special session of the council, after yet another intercontinental ballistic missile launch by Pyongyang,” said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the American ambassador to the United Nations. “If it is starting to feel like we are here nearly every month, it is because we are.”
Thomas-Greenfield urged Russia and China to take the council out of its continued cycle of inaction despite many meetings they have hosted after major North Korean provocations, citing the latest launch by the North of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on April 12.
North Korea successfully tested a solid-fuel ICBM for the first time on April 12, marking significant progress in its missile program.
It was the third ICBM the North has fired this year, in what was its 14th ballistic missile launch of 2023.
“There was a time when every member of this council came together to make clear that there is zero, zero justification for proliferators and their unlawful WMD [weapons of mass destruction] and ballistic missile programs,” said Thomas-Greenfield.
“We believe this council must do everything in its power to prevent the DPRK from carrying out future unlawful ballistic missile launches or a seventh nuclear test,” she added, referring to North Korea by the acronym of its full name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Russian Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya said the meetings at the security council on North Korea were being “churned out” for “purely propaganda purposes.”
Nebenzya admitted that the security situation on the Korean Peninsula as of late has been tense, but accused the United States of being one of the “direct participants” in the escalation of tensions, alluding to its joint military training drills with South Korea.
Thomas-Greenfield called out Russia on this stance, as well as China.
“Time and time again, these two council members draw false equivalences between the DPRK’s unlawful ballistic missile launches and the lawful, defensive, preannounced US-ROK joint military exercises,” she said.
Hwang Joon-kook, South Korean ambassador to the UN, stressed that North Korea has launched 11 ICBMs since 2022, adding the regime is “completely obsessed” with its unlawful WMD programs that come at the cost of the suffering of its own citizens.
He also called on the permanent members of the security council, which are also the five nuclear weapon states that signed the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, “to shoulder extraordinary responsibility” to ensure the credibility and viability of the security council.
Hwang reiterated the recent U.S.-Korea-Japan nuclear envoys’ call on all UN members to repatriate North Korean workers to keep with UN security council resolutions, stressing that their earnings fund the North’s weapons programs.
The Security Council, which used to consistently issue resolutions to punish Pyongyang for its military provocations, failed to issue a sanctions resolution for the first time in May last year when China and Russia vetoed the U.S.-drafted resolution.
The UNSC held three more meetings after that in 2022 to specifically discuss North Korea’s missile threats, but they all ended without any outcome due to continued opposition from China and Russia, both veto-power-wielding permanent members of the Security Council.
The latest meeting in New York was the second to be held this year.
BY ESTHER CHUNG [firstname.lastname@example.org]