North Korea missile tests ‘deeply troubling’: senior UN official

11 December 2019

Recent developments concerning North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes are “deeply troubling”, the UN’s Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific said on Wednesday, briefed the Security Council.

The first element of concern outlined by Khaled Khiari, was the resumption of missiles testing by DPRK, more commonly known as North Korea, which include the launch of two projectiles on November 28, and the announcement of a test which some analysts believe, he said, were designed to further North Korea’s nuclear programme.

Further announcements by State media include references to the testing of various new missile systems, said Mr. Khiari, including a multiple-launch rocket system, a new land-based short-range ballistic missile, and a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

Overall, there have been thirteen missile tests so far this year, despite Security Council resolutions which prohibit North Korea from conducting any launches that use ballistic missile technology.

Progress stalled on diplomacy or denuclearization

Despite two widely reported summits between the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump, diplomatic efforts between North Korea and the US, as well as between North Korea and South Korea, have stalled, Mr. Khiari told the Security Council.

The North Korean Government, he continued, has declared that talks about denuclearization are now off the table and that, unless the US ends its “hostile policy” towards the country, it will take a “new path”.

Although it hasn’t spelled out what this would entail, the Assistant Secretary-General referred to a November 30 statement from the North Korean Foreign Ministry, which said that we may see what a “real ballistic missile is in the not distant future”.

Mr. Khiari relayed to the Security Council the Secretary-General’s view on the current situation: the UN Chief, he said, calls on the parties to “continue what they have started”, and, believing that diplomacy can continue to reduce tensions that could otherwise set events on an unpredictable trajectory, urges DPRK and the United States to resume talks.

Humanitarian aid ‘remains critical’

The lack of diplomatic activity, continued the UN official, will not help the human rights or humanitarian situation in the country, where international aid operations remain critical for over 10 million people, around 40 per cent of the population.

Meeting the population’s basic needs of food, access to essential health services, and to clean water and adequate sanitation, are a humanitarian imperative, he said, and a basic human right.

Mr. Khiari reminded the Council that measures they have imposed on North Korea are not intended to negatively affect or restrict food aid and humanitarian assistance that is not prohibited by relevant Security Council resolutions.

Addressing the humanitarian needs in North Korea requires an integrated response if it is to be effective, he declared, save lives and prevent more suffering.

Some $120 million dollars are required for life-saving humanitarian operations in the country, said the UN official, pointing out that there is currently a funding gap of $87 million.

 

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