H.E. Kang Kyung-wha
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Republic of Korea
United Nations Security Council Ministerial Meeting on
The Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction
Thank you very much for this opportunity to speak to the Council. Thank you, Secreatry Tillerson, for the calling for the meeting. Thank you, USG Nakamitsu, for the briefing. It is indeed a great honor to come back to the Council although under very different circumstances and under very different responsibilities.
Let me be brief, it is late in the day.
Let me start by reaffirming my government’s strong commitment to strengthening the global non-proliferation regime. As outgoing Chair of both the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), we have led the strengthening of the multilateral export control regime. We have also been a strong advocate of countering WMD proliferation to non-state actors by supporting efforts to build an enduring nuclear security architecture
and implementing relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Not least, we continue to work with the international community to make meaningful progress in the run up to the 2020 NPT Review Conference.
Although I could elaborate further on my government’s efforts in WMD non-proliferation, I am compelled on this occasion to focus on the single topic that poses the most urgent and grave threat to the international non-proliferation regime; that is North Korea’s nuclear and missiles threat.
Last year North Korea conducted 2 nuclear tests and launched 24 ballistic missiles. This year, during a period of less than nine months, North Korea conducted another nuclear test and launched 19 ballistic missiles. On average, since 2016 North Korea has launched two ballistic missiles every month.
The most recent 6th nuclear test on 3 September was especially alarming, with its explosive yield far exceeding the sum of all five previous tests and North Korea claiming it as a hydrogen bomb to be mounted on an ICBM.
The Council quickly responded with the strongest ever Resolution 2375. But the ink was barely dry on this new Resolution when North Korea launched yet another ballistic missile, which flew a distance of 3,700km over Japan into the Pacific.
The international community has reacted firmly and rapidly to the latest provocations by North Korea. In addition to the quick adoption of the new Resolution, numerous countries and international organizations have strongly condemned North Korea and taken unilateral measures.
The Republic of Korea appreciates and welcomes these firm actions taken by the international community. North Korea must be stopped.
North Korea must be made to understand that continued provocations will only deepen its diplomatic isolation and intensify the economic pressure that will lead the regime to ruin. Denuclearization is the only path to a secure and stable future for the North.
Since the first nuclear test by North Korea in 2006, 9 Security Council Resolutions have been adopted. With repeated provocations and resolutions, it is perhaps easy to lose the sense of urgency around this issue. Perhaps it has become routine. But we must not let this happen.
Indeed, the urgency of the issue heightens by the days, by the weeks. We may be rapidly approaching the point of no return.
The North Korean leader himself is quoted as saying that North Korea is indeed in the final stages of nuclear weaponization and that it would clearly demonstrate to the world that this goal will be achieved despite endless sanctions.
Further troubling is the potential for the proliferation of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missiles, which will deal a crippling blow to the international non-proliferation regimes.
Thus, with a renewed sense of urgency, we must ensure now more than ever, the full implementation of the Security Council Resolutions, which include sanctions on North Korean coal and iron, fisheries and textiles, and overseas laborers as well as a steep cut in refined petroleum products going into the North.
Fully implemented, these sanctions will have a significant impact and force a change of course on the North Korean regime.
But let me reiterate that the sanctions are not an end in themselves, not meant to bring down North Korea but to bring it to the negotiation table for denuclearization. In this regard, we deeply appreciate the active efforts of the 1718 Committee and its Chair.
Even now, North Korea is continuing its reckless drive towards nuclear weaponization, testing the resolve of the international community.
“We can only go as fast and effectively as the slowest link among us”. North Korea will try to take advantage of the weakest link among us to defeat the Council’s resolve and decisions.
Therefore, the Council members and the international community must stand together in implementing the sanctions and in sending an unequivocal message to North Korea; it will pay painfully, heavily and dearly for its provocations and its nuclear weapons program will never be accepted.
Let me emphasize that our common goal is to achieve the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of the North Korean nuclear program in a peaceful manner.
The Republic of Korea will work assiduously and tirelessly to achieve the denuclearization of North Korea and the establishment of permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula, and will work closely with all to this end.
May I conclude with a message to North Korea, a message from this Council as a whole, I am sure. Come to the right side of history. Thank you. /END/