Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Representative to the United Nations, at a UN Security Council Briefing on Nonproliferation and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

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August 25, 2023

Thank you, Assistant Secretary-General Khiari, for your informative briefing.

Colleagues, the DPRK has once again defied this Council. It has defied this Council by continuing to pursue its unlawful ballistic missile program. On August 23rd, the DPRK attempted, yet again, to launch a satellite using a space launch vehicle. But even though this launch failed – and even though we were given advanced notification – this is another violation of UN Security Council resolutions. A violation the United States condemns in the strongest possible terms.

The Security Council has repeatedly demanded the DPRK not conduct any further launches using ballistic missile technology. These launches directly undermine the nonproliferation regime. They move us away from our collective goal of disarmament. And they threaten the DPRK’s neighbors and the entire world.

The DPRK claims, as it always has, its pursuit of a nuclear weapons program is an act of self-defense – but we all know the truth: The DPRK puts its paranoia and selfish interests over the dire needs of the North Korean people. The DPRK’s war machine is fueled by repression and cruelty, as this Council heard from UN experts just last week. It’s shameful, and it’s a grave threat to global peace.

The DPRK’s most recent launch caused an evacuation alert in Okinawa, raised tensions in Northeast Asia, destabilized the security situation in the region, and increased the risk of triggering military escalation. With each test, the DPRK further refines its weapons capabilities. And Pyongyang has already announced its commitment to launch another satellite in October.

I urge every Council member – every single member of this Council – to condemn this launch and discourage the DPRK from conducting another test.

The vast majority of Council members have affirmed their opposition to the DPRK’s unlawful actions and have called for Council unity to address them. And we thank those members. We thank them for their continued partnership and dedication to nonproliferation.

But colleagues, listen closely today to those countries that condemn and those countries that oppose the DPRK’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons and pay equal attention to those that don’t. Pay attention to which countries try to shield Kim Jong Un from criticism by pointing fingers at those of us calling out and defending ourselves from the regime’s reckless behavior.

This should be an issue that unifies us. We have all reaffirmed our commitment to the global nonproliferation regime time and time again. But since the beginning of 2022, this Council has failed to live up to its commitments because of China and Russia’s obstructionism.

This is a relatively new phenomena here, and an increasingly troubling one, I have to say. If we go back and watch Council meetings from a few years ago, in 2017, every Council member condemned or opposed the DPRK’s unlawful actions. We used to stand together. And we used to stand united.

And let me be clear: the United States and our allies have not changed our positions. We have always been committed to defending against the DPRK’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons – and our defensive joint military exercises are not new. So what changed? Why are some in this Council now offering up excuses for the DPRK’s pursuit of nuclear weapons?

Last month, senior Russian and Chinese officials stood beside Kim Jong Un for a celebration of the regime’s ballistic missile advancements. A celebration. The DPRK’s nuclear threat is growing, and Russia and China are not living up to their responsibility to maintain international peace and security. Instead, they are celebrating – celebrating – violations of Security Council resolutions and continuing to block Council action.

And while the DPRK refuses entry to international aid workers – aid workers that could help alleviate the suffering of the North Korean people – the regime invites foreign leaders to Pyongyang to show off its unlawful weapons development.

I want to reiterate the United States remains committed to diplomacy. Publicly and privately, at senior levels, we have repeatedly urged the DPRK to engage in dialogue. And Ambassador, I offer that to you today. That we are prepared to engage in diplomacy. We have made clear we have no preconditions for engagement and are prepared to discuss any topic of concern to your government. But the DPRK has still not responded to our offers.

Colleagues, we must return to an era when we used our collective voice to curb nuclear proliferation. We must unequivocally denounce the DPRK’s unlawful behavior. We must call on the DPRK to fully and faithfully implement all relevant Security Council resolutions. And we must address the DPRK’s global revenue-generating activities, which fund its unlawful weapons program.

Division only empowers the DPRK. So let us work together – let us work together once again – to confront this pressing threat to international peace and security.

Thank you very much.


Additional Remarks by Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield at a UN Security Council Briefing on Nonproliferation and the DPRK in Response to China and Russia




I shall now make a further statement in my capacity as Representative of the United States.

We reject the disingenuous claims by Russia and China that the U.S. is acting in a hostile manner. U.S.-allied military exercises are routine, they are lawful, and they are defensive in nature. And unlike the DPRK’s ballistic missile launches, they are not prohibited by UN Security Council resolutions.

And as a reminder, the DPRK has actually conducted six ICBM launches in 2022 before the U.S. and ROK resumed our largescale exercises in August of that year.

Colleagues, I want to recall what I said in my statement, that we should pay attention to what other members of the Council are saying. Thirteen out of 15 countries on this Council called for an end to the development of nuclear weapons by the DPRK. Thirteen out of 15 called for an end to their tests. And 13 out of 15 called for unity in this Council. If there is not unity in this Council, it’s not the 13 – it’s the two. And I do join in calling for unity of this Council.

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