Briefing by Izumi Nakamitsu, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, to the United Nations’ Security Council: Non-proliferation/DPRK 28 June 2024

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28 June 2024


Mr. President,

Distinguished members of the Security Council,


Ladies and gentlemen,

I have been asked today to brief the Security Council under the agenda item “Non-proliferation/Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” in order to discuss “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) weapon transfers in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions”, upon the request of France, Japan, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom and the United States.

The Council has recently been briefed on a number of occasions regarding the launches of ballistic missiles or satellites using ballistic missile technologies by the DPRK. In recent months, there have also been allegations of transfer of ballistic missiles, and ammunition from the DPRK to the Russian Federation in violation of relevant Security Council resolutions, allegedly for use in the conflict in Ukraine, which is being waged in violation of the United Nations Charter and international law.

I note that in its final report, dated 7 March 2024, the Panel of Experts that supported the Committee established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1718 (2006) states that the “Panel is investigating reports from Member States about supplies by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea of conventional arms and munitions in contravention of sanctions”.

I understand that, as per this reference in its final report, the Panel of Experts was reviewing, before the expiration of its mandate, a report by Ukraine on missile debris recovered in Ukraine, following information about short-range ballistic missiles manufactured in the DPRK and used by Russian armed forces in Ukraine.

On 30 April, the mandate of the Panel of Experts that supported the Committee expired, after having been continuously extended since 2009 when the Panel was first established by the Security Council. However, it is important to note that, while the mandate of the Panel of Experts expired, the Sanctions Committee continues its work and will oversee the implementation of the sanctions regime.

Mr. President,

The illicit and unregulated trade and the diversion of weapons and their ammunition has long been a major concern for the international community. To respond to the risks associated with illicit and unregulated arms transfers, States have established a number of international, regional and bilateral arms control treaties, agreements and frameworks to prevent and eradicate the illicit trade and diversion of conventional arms, to regulate the international arms trade and to promote transparency in weapons transfers.

United Nations Security Council sanctions regimes are at the top of such international collective efforts for the maintenance of international peace and security, and to prevent illicit transfer of arms. I recall that the relevant Security Council resolutions are legally binding on all UN member states.

At the international level, these efforts are complemented and reinforced by various other instruments, including for instance, the Arms Trade Treaty, the Firearms Protocol, the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons and its International Tracing Instrument and the Global Framework for Through-life Conventional Ammunition Management. These instruments vary in scope and the numbers of States that are parties to the relevant treaties also vary, but all are guided by the overarching principle of preventing and combating the illicit arms trade. Universal participation in the relevant instruments, as well as their full and effective implementation, must remain a priority.

Importing, transit, producing, and exporting States must act responsibly at every step along the arms and ammunition transfer chain to prevent diversion, illicit trafficking and misuse. Pre-transfer risk assessments, marking and recordkeeping practices, as well as tracing capabilities, are of utmost importance.

Effective physical security and stockpile management of arms and ammunition, as well as customs and border control measures are also key.

Any transfer of weapons and ammunition must be compliant with the applicable international legal framework, including of course, relevant Security Council resolutions and the sanctions regimes that they establish. As the SecretaryGeneral has stated, any relationship that any country has with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, including the Russian Federation, must entirely abide by the relevant Security Council sanctions.

Mr. President,

The DPRK continues its nuclear weapons programme and development of its means of delivery. It has significantly increased its ballistic missile launch activities in recent years, in line with its five-year military development plan, unveiled in January 2021. Since 2022, the DPRK has conducted more than 100 launches of ballistic missiles, including solid-fuel inter-continental ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles using ballistic missile technology, in violation of the relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 1718, 1874, 2094, 2270, 2321, 2375, and 2397. Most recently, on 26 June, the DPRK undertook what has been reported to be a launch using ballistic missile technology, which reportedly exploded shortly after the launch. The DPRK claimed however that it successfully conducted a test launch of a new type of multiple warhead missile.

With regard to the DPRK’s continued pursuit of nuclear programme, in his statement of 21 December 2023, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mr. Rafael Grossi said that the discharge of warm water from the cooling system of the Light Water Reactor at Yongbyon was observed, which is indicative that the reactor has reached criticality. More recently, Director-General Grossi said in his opening statement to the IAEA Board of Governors on 3 June, that the IAEA also observed indications of the ongoing operation of the reported centrifuge enrichment facility in Yongbyon, and expansion of another facility in Kangson Complex. While there are no indications of change at the Nuclear Test Site at Punggye-ri recently, the site remains occupied.

The DPRK’s persistent pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, in violation of relevant Security Council resolutions, continues to undermine the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) that underpins it.

Mr. President,

We have followed with concern the reports of malicious cyber activities attributed to DPRK-affiliated actors. According to the Final report of the Panel of Experts that supported the Committee established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1718 (2006), a high volume of such malicious activity continues, in particular through the targeting of cryptocurrency-related companies. Other trends observed include the targeting of supply chains. Such reported behaviour is not in line with the universally-endorsed General Assembly framework for responsible State behaviour in the use of information and communication technologies in the context of international security, but increases risks to international peace and security and undermines trust and stability between States.

Mr. President,

Distinguished members of the Security Council, In closing, I reiterate the Secretary-General’s call on the DPRK to fully comply with its international obligations, including those under relevant Security Council resolutions.

All relevant States must avoid taking any actions that could lead to further escalation not only in the Korean peninsula but also in other regions and undermine even more the arms control and non-proliferation regime.

The Secretary-General calls for the resumption of talks and for all concerned to foster an environment that is conducive to dialogue. Diplomatic engagement remains the only pathway to sustainable peace and the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

I thank you very much for your attention.

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