Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Representative to the United Nations, at a UN Security Council Briefing on the November 21 Launch by the DPRK

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November 27, 2023

Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you, Assistant Secretary-General Khiari, for briefing this Council on this grave threat to international peace and security.

Many times, this Council has urged the DPRK to halt its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs. Many times, we have asked Pyongyang to reject provocation, and embrace negotiation. Many times, we have opened the door to meaningful diplomacy. But time and again, the DPRK has flatly ignored these calls, and indeed, brazenly violated multiple Security Council resolutions.

The DPRK’s November 21st launch of a space launch vehicle using ballistic missile technology wasn’t even the latest in a long line of such flagrant violations. The very next day, Pyongyang launched another ballistic missile. In addition to these launches, the DPRK has launched three SLVs and 29 ballistic missiles, including four ICBMs in this year alone. And now, a North Korean reconnaissance satellite has been confirmed in orbit.

Despite what you might hear today, the DPRK isn’t responding to U.S. or allied military activity. No, the DPRK has made its motivations clear. The DPRK is unabashedly trying to advance its nuclear weapons delivery systems by testing ballistic missile technology in clear violation of this Council’s resolutions. This reckless, unlawful behavior threatens all of the DPRK’s neighbors and all Member States. As you heard from Mr. Khiari, there was no notification of this action.

Colleagues, this body is charged with maintaining international peace and security. The DPRK is undermining that authority. But it is how we respond that ultimately determines our credibility. And yet, there are two permanent members that have been unwilling to condemn this dangerous, escalatory launch, and others like it.

On the contrary, this past July, senior officials from the Russian Federation and China attended a DPRK military parade. They celebrated alongside Kim Jong Un as he showcased his ballistic missiles program – a program explicitly prohibited by the Council on which they sit as permanent members.

To add insult to injury, Russia is expanding its military relationship with the DPRK which – by Putin’s own admission – could include helping the DPRK build more satellites like the one launched last week. And our information indicates that the DPRK has provided Russia with more than 1,000 containers of military equipment and munitions that will be used to support Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine.

Colleagues, how many more times must we gather for briefings like this before Russia and China join us in demanding the DPRK abandon its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs? What will it take for them to condemn Pyongyang’s unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs and associated global procurement network?

For our part, the United States continues to call for dialogue on any topic with the DPRK, without preconditions. The DPRK can choose the time and the topic. But the DPRK needs to make that choice.

Colleagues, in recent weeks, we have found common ground on shared matters of global peace and security. This issue should be no different.

Today, we call on this Council to speak out once again: To encourage the DPRK to focus less on stocking an arsenal, and more on stocking the pantries of the DPRK people, who suffer from severe economic hardship and malnutrition, and accept the UN’s offer of support. To urge the DPRK to engage in diplomacy. And to exercise our responsibility to maintain international peace and security and uphold the global nonproliferation regime.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Additional Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a UN Security Council Briefing on the November 21 Launch by the DPRK

Thank you, Mr. President for allowing me to take the floor once again, and I will try to be as brief as possible.

We’ve heard 13 Member States sitting around this table call on the DPRK to cease their unlawful testing. So, the message is clear here that this is a violation of Security Council resolutions.

The DPRK claims it’s acting in self-defense, but the self-defense really does not stand here as the U.S. and ROK military exercises, as you know, are routine and they’re defensive in nature. And we intentionally reduce risk and pursue transparency by announcing the exercises in advance, including the dates and the activities unlike the DPRK.

And unlike the DPRK’s launches using ballistic missile technology, these actions are not prohibited by UN Security Council resolutions. So, we reject strongly the disingenuous DPRK claim that its missile launches are merely defensive in nature in response to our bilateral and trilateral military exercises.

And I think the chronology of these events revealed the truth. By the time the United Stares and the ROK resumed large-scale exercises in August of 2022, the DPRK had already conducted six ICBM launches that year, and its efforts to reconstitute its nuclear test sites were already underway.

I also heard and I want to reiterate a statement made by my Chinese colleague: “The DPRK’s pursuit of self-defense cannot come at the expense of the security of its neighbors or the global nonproliferation regime.”

Secondly, I’d like to mention the Chinese-Russian so-called humanitarian resolution, which in our view applauds the DPRK for not conducting IRBM and ICBM launches. Sanctions relief in the face of the DPRK’s unprecedented launches would only send one signal and that is a disregard for the Security Council, and violation of international law would be overlooked. And I think the Security Council cannot be engaged in that.

And I think if either Russia or China want to insist on the humanitarian side, they can do that and continue to do that bilaterally.

On the humanitarian situation, I would just like to mention that we do remain deeply concerned, but I think if you look at DPRK’s recent actions you will understand what their priorities are. The DPRK has allowed Chinese and Russian diplomats in and members of the anti-doping league, so its athletes can travel, but still UN aid agencies are forbidden from providing the necessary humanitarian assistance that we know is needed in that country.

Once again, I’d like to express sincerely our offer of dialogue without preconditions. The DPRK only needs to accept.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Let me just say one thing: No weapons have ever been fired by the United States toward the DPRK. We’re working with our allies to help them in the protection of their sovereignty against your actions, which are based on paranoia about a possible attack by the United States. If there is anything the United States wants to provide to the DPRK, that is humanitarian assistance for your people, and not weapons to destroy your people. Thank you.

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