A senior United Nations official warned Monday that North Korea is hitting “significant milestones” in its five-year military development plan, including its launch last week of a reported solid fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
“The lack of unity and action in the Security Council does little to slow the negative trajectory on the Korean Peninsula,” U.N. deputy political chief Khaled Khiari told an emergency meeting of the council. “The DPRK is unconstrained, and other parties are compelled to focus on military deterrence.”
DPRK are the initials for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or North Korea.
He noted the April 13 launch of what Pyongyang said was a solid fuel ICBM, as well as dozens of ballistic missile launches since the five-year plan was announced in January 2021.
“Most of the systems it tested are capable of striking countries in the immediate region,” Khiari said. “The systems it tested on 13 April, 16 March and 18 February, as well as on two occasions last year, are capable of reaching most points on the Earth.”
U.N. Security Council resolutions prohibit North Korea from using ballistic missile technology.
The council has adopted several sanctions resolutions on North Korea since 2006, the last in December 2017. But in recent years, China and Russia have blocked further council action, even as Pyongyang’s missile launches have become more frequent, and concerns grow that a seventh nuclear test may be planned.
China’s envoy defended Pyongyang, saying U.S. joint military exercises are the “main trigger” for issues on the Korean Peninsula and criticized its “flip-flop” on policy toward North Korea.
“The parties should deeply reflect on the lessons from the past and come to realize that a show of goodwill is vital to building mutual trust and creating the conditions necessary for peace talks,” Ambassador Zhang Jun said.
The U.N.’s Khiari noted that the Marshal of the Korean People's Army issued a statement Monday opposing the council’s meeting.
The United States has repeatedly said it is willing to hold talks with North Korea.
Ahead of the meeting, council members Albania, Britain, Ecuador, France, Japan, Malta, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and the United States, along with South Korea, issued a statement strongly condemning the solid fuel launch.
“The Security Council must overcome its prolonged silence, act on its responsibility to effectively address this security threat, and promote peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula,” U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said on behalf of the group.
South Korea, which is not a council member but participated in Monday’s meeting as an interested party, urged the council to do more to stop revenue flowing to Pyongyang’s weapons of mass destruction programs.
“The DPRK profits massively from its malicious cyber activities and overseas IT workers with forged identities and nationalities all around the world, which have a seriously destabilizing effect on the international peace and security,” Ambassador Hwang Joon-kook said.