October 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 September 2007
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DPRK (North Korea)

Expected Council Action
The Chairman of the Sanctions Committee on the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, Ambassador Marcello Spatafora of Italy, will brief the Council in October.  Resolution 1718, which established the Committee in October 2006 following North Korea’s nuclear test, requires a report every ninety days. 

No formal Council action is expected.  However, some Council members may have interest in encouraging North Korea’s recent steps toward denuclearization. A press statement or some other informal response is possible. 

Key Recent Developments
Progress has been made in implementing the 13 February six-party agreement (China, Japan, Russia, the US, North Korea and South Korea) under which North Korea would receive economic assistance and fuel in exchange for halting its nuclear programme. In mid July, North Korea shut down its Yongbyon reactor with some oversight by the IAEA.  As stipulated by the first phase of the agreement, 50,000 tons of fuel oil was provided in return.

Under the second phase, an additional 950,000 tons of fuel oil or equivalent assistance is promised to North Korea in return for full disclosure and disablement of its entire nuclear programme.  There has been some recent movement on this front.  At a bilateral working group in Geneva in early September, North Korean negotiator Kim Kye-gwan advised his US counterpart Christopher Hill that Pyongyang would disclose and disable its programme by the end of the calendar year.  Additionally, Chinese, Russian and US nuclear experts on 15 September completed a four-day mission to North Korea to assess strategies for disabling the Yongbyon facilities. 

Nonetheless, hurdles remain.  On 12 September, there were media reports that North Korea might be providing assistance with an alleged nuclear facility in Syria.  The six-party plenary session initially planned for 19-21 September in Beijing was delayed until 27 September because North Korea did not agree to the dates. 

In resolution 1718, the Council required all member states to report to the Sanctions Committee regarding implementation of the sanctions regime established by the resolution.  State reports were due by 14 November 2006. To date, 72 member states and the EU have complied.  The Committee, which at press time had not met since 26 June, has not designated entities or individuals for targeted sanctions.

The Council has the following options:

  • receive the briefing and take no action;
  • issue a press statement welcoming progress made through the six-party talks and other negotiations; and
  • request from the chair of the Sanctions Committee a review that assesses member state compliance and options for future work.  (There might be both carrot-and-stick elements in such an approach because it could allow the Committee to calibrate its report in light of actual progress.)

Key Issues
A key issue is how the Council can facilitate recent momentum. A related issue is whether and how the Council should signal readiness to make adjustments to its previous approach by modifying the sanctions regime and moving to less punitive strategies to encourage further cooperation while at the same time remaining alert to any emerging hurdles.  

Council Dynamics
In light of recent events, no members seem to be advocating the intensification of sanctions against North Korea.  Some Council members suspect that robust activity by the Sanctions Committee could hinder the positive developments that have recently been made in the context of the six-party talks.  

UN Documents

 Selected Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1718 (14 October 2006) expressed grave concern over DPRK’s nuclear test, imposed sanctions and set up a Sanctions Committee.
  • S/RES/1695 (15 July 2006) condemned DPRK’s launch of ballistic missiles.
Presidential Statement
  • S/PRST/2006/41 (6 October 2006) was the statement expressing concern over the DPRK’s declaration that it would conduct a nuclear test.
 Selected Letter
  • S/2006/481 (5 July 2006) was the letter from Japan requesting a meeting of the Security Council after DPRK launched a ballistic missile.


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