한반도평화교섭본부장, KF 차세대 정책전문가 네트워크 총회 기조연설(7.26)
160726) 한반도본부장 KF 기조연설(as delivered).docx
The North Korean Nuclear Issue
by Ambassador Hong-kyun Kim,
Special Representative for Korean Peninsula
Peace and Security Affairs
(KF Next Generation Policy Experts Alumni Dialogue, July 26, 2016)
The Honorable Shim Jae-kwon, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee,
Ambassador Lee Si-hyung, President of the Korea Foundation,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
Good morning. It’s a great pleasure to join you in celebrating the first “Next Generation Policy Experts Alumni Dialogue.”
I thank the Korea Foundation for organizing this meaningful event. Indeed, this gathering comes at a time when North Korea’s old pattern of belligerence and provocations shows no signs of abating. It’s at times like these that fresh ideas from a new generation of scholars and experts can add so much to the debate on how to induce North Korea to make the right choice.
As I’m sure you’ll agree, the North Korean nuclear issue is the single greatest threat to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia. It also poses a growing danger to the international community – both in terms of its implications for proliferation and for nuclear safety.
As food for thought, I will briefly touch upon where we stand and what we’re aiming for in our common quest to denuclearize North Korea.
In the past few years, the world has witnessed a wave of change, whether in Myanmar or Iran. North Korea remains the singular outlier – it’s going in the complete opposite direction by developing nuclear weapons.
For the past quarter century, the international community has been working strenuously to resolve the issue through dialogue and engagement. Over the years, negotiations have led to several agreements with North Korea. North Korea ended up breaching every one of them. With each broken promise, the situation took a turn for the worse.
Unlike his father, Kim Jong-un is blatant in manifesting his desire for nuclear weapons. North Korea has enshrined in its Constitution its status as a nuclear weapons state. The Byongjin policy of simultaneously pursuing nuclear weapons and economic development has also been stipulated in the Party Rules.
The situation will only get worse if this erratic leader actually gets his hands on a functioning nuclear arsenal. North Korea is the only country to have conducted nuclear tests in the 21st century. They’re going even further by threatening preemptive nuclear strikes. It would be the height of irresponsibility to dismiss these threats as mere bluff. For Pyongyang is tenacious in its pursuit of the full range of capabilities needed for a credible strike – be they mobile launchers, long-range missiles, Musudan missiles, SLBMs, and reentry technology.
If we fail to stop North Korea’s ambitions now, the day will come when we are left to face a nuclear armed North Korea. This will significantly alter the strategic landscape in Northeast Asia.
This extraordinary threat indeed requires an extraordinary response. Reflecting the collective resolve of the international community that it can no longer be business as usual, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2270, the most robust and comprehensive set of non-military UN sanctions to date.
Furthermore, many countries have taken unprecedentedly strong individual sanctions in areas that include shipping, finance and human rights. North Korea’s traditional friends have also joined in sending a clear message to North Korea. All told, the community of nations is indeed exerting full-court pressure on North Korea.
Despite these enhanced efforts, North Korea is continuing down its misguided path, categorically rejecting Resolution 2270. This year alone, it has already conducted 16 ballistic missile launches – an average of once every 2 weeks. If we just sit back and watch as North Korea routinely flouts the authority of the Security Council - the bastion of peace and stability - the very foundations of the current international order will all but start to founder.
Under these circumstances, the international community needs to take measures which go far beyond what Pyongyang believes is possible and far beyond what Pyongyang can actually endure. The issue boils down to a test of wills. We must clearly demonstrate that our collective resolve is much stronger than North Korea’s ambitions.
The only viable solution is to create an environment that leaves North Korea with no choice but to abandon its nuclear program. To achieve this, we must make North Korea realize that pressure will only continue to grow, and that developing WMDs will only stymie its ability to get what it wants.
In this vein, the international community has been sending firm messages to North Korea: at the CICA Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the recent ASEM Summit. China and Russia have also signed off on these messages. The ASEAN Regional Forum this afternoon should also send out a clear message.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Even as it continues with its threats and provocations, North Korea has also recently proposed dialogue. This is an old tactic taken from North Korea’s playbook. North Korea is trying to evade the mounting pressure by driving a wedge in the international coalition. And we’ve already bought the same horse – indeed on more than two occasions. If North Korea is really serious about dialogue, it should start by immediately ceasing its provocative behavior and showing its sincerity about denuclearization with actions. In the meantime, we need to step up the pressure and make sure denuclearization remains our top priority.
As chief negotiator to the Six Party Talks, my mission is to find a diplomatic settlement with North Korea. I do hope that North Korea changes its strategic calculus and comes back to the table for meaningful talks on denuclearization.
May this occasion serve to reaffirm our sense of utmost urgency and determination in addressing the North Korean nuclear problem. I also look to those gathered here for fresh new ideas on how to better induce North Korea to make the right choice.
Thank you. /End/
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