At the request of Japan and South Korea, the United Nations Security Council has met and unanimously condemned North Korea’s latest missile launch which saw a ballistic missile fly over Japan. It was the first time the DPRK has fired a missile over Japanese territory since 2009.
While Japan reserves the right to shoot down any missiles over its territory, this was not attempted during the recent launch.
The opening paragrpahs of the UNSC statement read as follows,
“The Security Council this evening strongly condemned as “outrageous” the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 28 August launch of a ballistic missile that flew over Japan, as well as multiple launches conducted on 25 August, expressing grave concern that the North-East Asian nation was deliberately undermining regional peace and stability and causing security concerns around the world.
Issuing presidential statement S/PRST/2017/16, read out by Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta (Egypt), Council President for August, members demanded that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea immediately cease such actions and comply with all relevant Council resolutions. Among other things, it must suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile programme, re-establish its pre-existing commitments to a moratorium on missile launches, abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes in a “complete, verifiable and irreversible manner”, refrain from conducting any further nuclear tests or provocations, and abandon any other existing weapons of mass destruction.
Stressing that such actions constituted a threat not only to the region but to all United Nations Member States, the Council further emphasised the vital importance of immediate, concrete actions to reduce tensions in the Korean Peninsula and beyond, and called on all States to strictly, fully and expeditiously implement all resolutions related to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”.
While no further sanctions were threatened, Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations stated,
“The United States will not allow their lawlessness to continue”.
This open ended statement implies that, as Donald Trump said yesterday, a military option is still being considered by the US.
Russia however, once again totally rejected any would-be US attack on North Korea. Moscow’s new Ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya said,
“There can be no military solution to the issues on the Korean Peninsula. We believe that all the United Nations Security Council resolutions on North Korea must specify this condition”.
He further re-stated the joint Sino-Russian position that North Korea must immediately cease its launches but that crippling sanctions against Pyongyang will only intensify a situation that Russia and China seek to de-escalate.
“The normalization of the situation on the Korean Peninsula requires an approach providing for both halting of the North Korean nuclear and missile tests, and abandoning [US-South Korean] military build-up including the THAAD system and scaling down military maneuvers”.
While China and Russia hold fast to their ‘double-freeze’ position on North Korea, America’s position remains ambitious and worrying.