By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS. 6 September 2023 (IDN) — As North Korea continues to defy the Security Council, it has made a mockery of one of the most powerful political bodies at the UN—openly violating its resolutions with monotonous regularity.
The violations have triggered strong condemnations by the US, the Group of 7 (G7), and Secretary-General António Guterres.
The US says North Korea conducted six Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) launches last year—missiles with a range greater than 5,500 kilometres and primarily designed for delivery of nuclear weapons.
The Security Council, meanwhile, has also been brought to a virtual standstill amid a new cold war between China and Russia (supporting North Korea) vs. the US and Western powers threatening the DPRK.
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told delegates at a UN Security Council meeting on 25 August: “Colleagues, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has once again defied this Council. It has defied this Council by continuing to pursue its unlawful ballistic missile program.”
On 23 August, she said, the DPRK attempted, yet again, to launch a satellite using a space launch vehicle. “But even though this launch failed—and even though we were given advanced notification—this is another violation of UN Security Council resolutions. A violation the United States condemns in the strongest possible terms,” she declared.
Has the UNSC suffered similar setbacks during other conflicts and political confrontations? Or is the battle between the UNSC vs. DPRK unique and one of its kind?
Asked for his comments, Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics, University of San Francisco, who has written extensively on the politics of the Security Council, told IDN the decision by China and Russia to block Security Council action against North Korea for its ongoing violations of previous resolutions regarding its nuclear weapons and delivery systems is very disturbing, but not unprecedented.
For more than forty years, he pointed out, the United States has blocked enforcement of UN Security Council resolution 487, which calls on Israel to place its nuclear facilities under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) trusteeship.
And for over 25 years, the United States has blocked enforcement of UN Security Council resolution 1172, which calls on India and Pakistan to eliminate their nuclear arsenals and long-range missiles, he pointed out.
Furthermore, he said the United States has provided all three countries with nuclear-capable jet fighters and other military assistance and has subsequently signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with India.
“Until all Permanent Five (P5) members—the US, UK, France, China and Russia—recognize that successful nonproliferation efforts requires consistent enforcement regardless of their relations with the violator, the Security Council cannot play an effective role in curbing this threat,” declared Zunes.
Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield told delegates last month that senior Russian and Chinese officials stood beside Kim Jong-un for a celebration of the regime’s ballistic missile advancements.
“A celebration?.The DPRK’s nuclear threat is growing, and Russia and China are not living up to their responsibility to maintain international peace and security. Instead, they are celebrating—celebrating—violations of Security Council resolutions and continuing to block Council action.”
And while the DPRK refuses entry to international aid workers—aid workers that could help alleviate the suffering of the North Korean people—the regime invites foreign leaders to Pyongyang to show off its unlawful weapons development, she added.
“I want to reiterate the United States remains committed to diplomacy. Publicly and privately, at senior levels, we have repeatedly urged the DPRK to engage in dialogue.”
“As Ambassador, I offer that to you today. That we are prepared to engage in diplomacy. We have made clear we have no preconditions for engagement and are prepared to discuss any topic of concern to your government. But the DPRK has still not responded to our offers.”
Addressing delegates, she said: “Colleagues, we must return to an era when we used our collective voice to curb nuclear proliferation. We must unequivocally denounce the DPRK’s unlawful behavior. We must call on the DPRK to fully and faithfully implement all relevant Security Council resolutions. And we must address the DPRK’s global revenue-generating activities, which fund its unlawful weapons program.”Stat
In a joint statement issued on 24 August, the Group of 7 said: “We, the G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the High Representative of the European Union, condemn in the strongest terms North Korea’s launch using ballistic missile technology conducted on August 24, 2023. This launch is a clear, flagrant violation of multiple United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) and poses a grave threat to regional and international peace and stability.”
Addressing the Security Council on 24 August, Khaled Khiari, Assistant Secretary-General, Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, said 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,” he noted.
In a statement on 24 August, UN Secretary-General Guterres said he “strongly condemns the attempted launch of yet another military satellite by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”.
Any launch by the DPRK using ballistic missile technology “is contrary to the relevant Security Council resolutions”.
The Secretary-General also 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.
Meanwhile, according to a CNN report on September 5, the North Korean leader may travel to Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin for discussions on a potential deal to supply Moscow with weapons for its war on Ukraine, according to the US government.
Kim’s possible visit to Russia comes as the US has expressed increasing concerns about North Korea’s military assistance to Russia’s war effort in Ukraine—a move that would be in breach of US sanctions.
When asked for comment on the matter, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying, “We have nothing to say on the subject”.
Apart from North Korea, Russia has also received drones and artillery from Iran, according to CNN. [IDN-InDepthNews]
Photo: US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield is seen speaking during a UN Security Council meeting in New York on 25 August 2023 in this captured image. (Yonhap)
IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.