UN official calls out Security Council for inaction on NKorea

Published : 03 Jun 2023 08:15 PM

A senior United Nations official on Friday took the Security Council to task over its failure to hold North Korea to account for multiple sanctions-busting missile tests, saying such inaction allowed Pyongyang to remain "unconstrained."

"The lack of unity and action in the Security Council does little to slow the negative trajectory on the Korean peninsula," the UN's under-secretary-general for political and peacebuilding affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, told Council members.

"The DPRK is unconstrained, and other parties are compelled to focus on military deterrence," she said, referring to North Korea by the acronym for its full official name.

"As the DPRK affirms, it is the right of a sovereign state to launch a satellite and to benefit from space activities. However, Council resolutions expressly prohibit the DPRK from conducting any launches using ballistic missile technology."

Her comments come a few days after the North's first attempt to launch a military spy satellite into orbit failed, with its new Chollima-1 rocket plunging into the sea.

Because long-range missiles and rockets used for space launches share the same technology, analysts say developing the ability to put a satellite in orbit would provide Pyongyang with cover for testing banned intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Earlier this week, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres "strongly" condemned the North's military launch.

While DiCarlo -- a former US diplomat -- did not call out any specific Security Council members, the United States once again pointed the finger of blame at Russia and China.

"As long as Pyongyang feels emboldened by the silence of this council... it will continue to choose ammunition over nutrition," said Robert Wood, Washington's deputy UN ambassador.

The last time the Council showed unity on North Korea was in 2017.

Under then president Donald Trump, the United States successfully pushed for the unanimous adoption of three resolutions that imposed tough economic sanctions on Pyongyang following a series of nuclear and missile tests.

In May 2022, China and Russia vetoed a resolution that would have slapped new sanctions on the North. Since then, the Council has not adopted a resolution or even a joint statement aimed at Pyongyang despite multiple missile launches.

Moscow and Beijing have in turn laid blame on Washington, citing US joint military exercises with South Korea as a stress point in the situation on the Korean peninsula.

"Is it constructive to point the finger at one party and to put all the blame on one party? Obviously not," China's deputy UN envoy Geng Shuang said Friday.

"This will only exacerbate conflicts and provocations, and inject new uncertainties into the already tense situation on the peninsula."