Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson today said the United Nations hopes that China will exert its influence on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to de-escalate tensions after the recent nuclear test but was also aware of the limits of that influence.
Speaking to reporters in Beijing, China, Mr. Eliasson said that given the difficulties of reaching into the decision-making processes in DPRK, there is hope from the outside world that China could have a positive influence “not least in the direction of de-escalation but also to convey the message to the leadership in DPRK how dangerous this development could be.”
“There is much at stake, not only for the people of Korea, of both Koreas, but also for the region,” he added.
Following high-level meetings today in Beijing, Mr. Eliasson said that China is a great neighbour of DPRK and knows it better than most other nations, but that the Government claims not to wield the kind of pressure that others believe it has.
“The answer from my Chinese friends is that they will do what they can, but that we should not exaggerate their influence,” Mr. Eliasson told reporters.
The Government of DPRK reportedly conducted its third, long-threatened nuclear test on 12 February to international condemnation, including from the Security Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).
The Security Council is currently considering what actions to take on the matter. A test is a violation of sanctions imposed on DPRK by the Council following nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, including a ban on the import of nuclear and missile technology. The sanctions were further tightened last month in a unanimous decision by the Council after DPRK reportedly launched a long-range Unha-3 rocket from its west coast in December 2012.
Mr. Eliasson underscored today that neither he nor Mr. Ban are part of the Council's deliberations, and that “we will adapt accordingly” to any actions taken by the 15-member body in line with Council resolutions, international law and the UN Charter.
From Beijing, the deputy UN chief travels next to the Republic of Korea and Japan. Following talks in Tokyo, he will visit the disaster areas where an earthquake and tsunami struck on 11 March 2011, to show solidarity with the people affected and to learn from the response efforts. In1991, Mr. Eliasson served as chairman of the UN General Assembly working group on emergency relief.