Signs that North Korea is ‘maintaining nuclear weapons programme’ – UN political affairs chief
There are signs that North Korea (formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK), is “still maintaining and developing its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes”, Rosemary di Carlo, United Nations political affairs chief, told the Security Council on Monday.
Ms. Di Carlo welcomed the positive announcements made by North Korea, with regards to ending nuclear testing, in April and May, including DPRK’s leader Kim Jong Un’s stated commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
However, she added that Yukiya Amano, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported in May that the Agency had observed nuclear signatures consistent with the continued operation of a plutonium production reactor, radiochemical laboratory and alleged uranium enrichment facility in Yongbyon, North Korea.
The Agency continues to enhance its readiness to play an essential role in verifying the DPRK’s nuclear programme if a political agreement is reached among countries concerned.”
Whereas, one year ago, the Korean Peninsula lay at the centre of world concerns over peace and security, in the face of DPRK’s nuclear testing and threats, the unity of the Security Council, she said, helped create the opportunity to engage diplomatically, reduce military tensions and re-open channels of communication.
Ms. di Carlo was speaking at a briefing on the implementation of sanctions on North Korea, requested and presided over, by the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley.
The 15 Council members sat to consider the latest midterm report of the Panel of Experts of the 1718 DPRK Sanctions Committee, which was established to oversee the relevant sanctions measures relating to North Korea.
Ms. Haley reiterated claims made in a press release published by the US Mission to the United Nations, on September 13, stating that Russia had pressured the panel to alter its independent report, which included sanctions violations implicating Russian actors – and accused Russia of “working across the board to undermine the sanctions regime.”
In response, Vassily Nebenzia, the Russian Federation’s Ambassador to the United Nations, claimed that the United States was using the meeting to try to “impose on the international community their own vision of the situation.” Mr. Nebenzia said that the work of the Panel of Experts had become “increasingly politicized” and that the first version of the report did not meet the required standards of objectivity and impartiality.
He continued by saying that the Russian Federation, and other members of the North Korea Sanctions Committee, “expressed a number of comments which were reviewed correctly by the Experts, and then taken on board, when they transferred the report to the Security Council.”