DPR Korea: Military satellites, ‘serious risk’ to civil aviation and shipping
The recent launch of a reconnaissance satellite by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), presents a ‘serious risk’ to international civil aviation and shipping, the Security Council heard on Monday.
The UN’s Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, Mohamed Khaled Khiari, told ambassadors the satellite had been loaded onto a rocket launched on 21 November.
The National Aerospace Technology Administration of DPRK – more commonly known as North Korea - announced that day that it was the first of several intelligence-gathering satellites to be launched “in a short span of time”.
“The DPRK’s launches represent a serious risk to international civil aviation and maritime traffic,” Mr. Khiari said, adding that Pyongyang had failed to issue airspace or maritime safety notifications to relevant UN bodies (the International Maritime Organization, International Civil Aviation Organization, and International Telecommunications Union), although the Japanese Coast Guard had been informed.
Rights in space
Sovereign States do have the right to benefit from peaceful space activities, the senior UN official said, but Security Council resolutions expressly prohibit North Korea from conducting any launches using ballistic missile technology.
Responding to the 21 November launch, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres strongly reiterated his call on the DPRK to fully comply with its international obligations and resume dialogue to achieve the goal of sustainable peace and the “complete and verifiable denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula.
Alarming spike in rhetoric
As Mr. Khiari stressed, “the increase in nuclear rhetoric on the Korean Peninsula is deeply concerning.”
The DPRK continues to implement a five-year military plan unveiled in January 2021, he said, which includes developing a military reconnaissance satellite – also informally known as ‘spy satellites’ - along with various other weapons systems including tactical nuclear weapons.
He noted that the country has recently adopted a constitutional amendment further enshrining its policy on nuclear forces in the Constitution.
“As such, the DPRK has consistently demonstrated its strong intention to continue pursuing its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, in violation of relevant Security Council resolutions,” the UN official emphasized, calling on the authorities to refrain from such actions.
With growing tensions on the Peninsula, it is important to re-establish communication between the two Koreas, particularly through military channels, while exercising maximum restraint to avoid unintended accidents or miscalculations, Mr. Khiari believes.
He called on Security Council Members to “unite and explore practical measures to halt the current negative trend” for which all the tools of dialogue, diplomacy, and negotiation, should be used in keeping with Council resolutions, aimed at full denuclearization.