Remarks by Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, Acting Deputy Representative to the United Nations, at a UN Security Council Briefing on the July 12 ICBM Launch by the DPRK

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July 13, 2023

Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you, Assistant Secretary-General Khiari, for your briefing.

The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the DPRK’s July 12 intercontinental ballistic missile launch.

It is alarming – albeit hardly surprising – that we find ourselves back in the Council responding to yet another unlawful DPRK intercontinental ballistic missile launch. Alarming, because the DPRK has now launched 20 ballistic missiles in 2023, including four ICBMs.

These launches are violations of multiple Security Council resolutions; they have raised tensions in Northeast Asia and beyond; and they are intended to refine and further develop the DPRK’s unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs.

And let’s us be clear about what this is: 20 tests of nuclear weapons delivery systems.

This launch follows a series of threatening statements from the DPRK, including the most recent ones from Pyongyang against U.S. aircraft operating in international airspace.

And as I said before, this is unfortunately unsurprising.

As Council members, we all have the mandate and responsibility to confront the DPRK’s unlawful and unjustifiable development of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction.

The sheer number of these ballistic launches over the past year and a half should not erode our capacity to meaningfully respond to nuclear proliferation. In fact, it should strengthen the Council’s resolve to reject the DPRK’s attempts to expand its WMD and ballistic missile programs. Countering nuclear proliferation should be an issue that unites us.

It certainly was in 2017 when the DPRK last joined us for a meeting. However, two Council members now appear to disagree. Russia and China have prevented this Council from speaking with one voice. And with these repeated launches, Pyongyang is demonstrating it feels emboldened – perhaps even encouraged – to continue in this manner because China and Russia have consistently prevented this Council from taking action to halt these transgressions.

None of this should acceptable.

The DPRK dismisses this Council, threatens its neighbors, and refuses humanitarian assistance offered to its people. These are not the actions of a responsible Member State. And the United States will not allow the DPRK and its defenders to make a mockery of this Council.

I want to reiterate that the United States remains committed to diplomacy. Publicly and privately, and at senior levels, we have repeatedly urged the DPRK to engage in dialogue. We have made clear that we have no preconditions for engagement, and we are prepared to discuss any topic of concern to Pyongyang. The DPRK has not responded to our offers.

Colleagues, this status quo is untenable. I don’t want us to be back here next month for another briefing in response to a DPRK ballistic missile launch or nuclear test. But I fear that if this Council continues to remain silence, that is very well where we’ll be. Council unity in 2017 stopped the DPRK from launching another ICBM for five years. And that’s what we should aim for again.

We call today on all Council members to join us in denouncing the DPRK’s unlawful behavior, to fully implement all relevant Security Council resolutions in order to curb the DPRK’s generation of revenue for its WMD and ballistic missile programs.

We hope the DPRK’s direct participation today demonstrates that it is ready to engage in meaningful diplomacy without preconditions. But if not, this Council should unify like we did in 2017.

Let us return to the era when we used our collective voice to address nuclear proliferation as a threat to international peace and security.

I thank you.

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