July 2008 Monthly Forecast

Posted 27 June 2008
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ASIA

DPRK (North Korea)

Expected Council Action
The Chairman of the Sanctions Committee on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Ambassador Marcello Spatafora of Italy, will brief the Council in July. The Committee, which was established by resolution 1718 following North Korea’s October 2006 nuclear test, must report to the Council every 90 days.

No formal Council action is expected. However, given the encouraging developments leading towards Pyongyang’s full disclosure of its nuclear programme, it is possible that the Council will issue a press statement. A process for review of the sanctions is also a possible option if the current trend continues.


Key Recent Developments
Ambassador Spatafora briefed the Council on 2 April. Resolution 1718 asked member states to report to the Council by 14 November 2006. Seventy three countries and the EU have submitted reports.

On 26 June Pyongyang submitted a declaration of its nuclear activities to China, the chair of the six-party talks. At press time, it was also on the point of destroying the cooling tower of its Yongbyon nuclear reactor which shut down in July 2007.

In May, North Korea handed over 18,822 pages of documents constituting operating and production records of the Yongbyon reactor.

The DPRK has received about 40 percent of the energy aid promised in the Beijing Agreement of February 2007. Further installments are likely when the DPRK has completed more of the 11 steps in “disabling” its nuclear programme.

A handover of all nuclear material and permanent dismantling of all nuclear facilities—the last phase of the agreement—is still expected at a later stage. The US is offering political and economic inducements for North Korea’s complete denuclearisation. Following the DPRK’s 26 June nuclear declaration the US announced the removal of some trade sanctions under the US Trading with the Enemy Act and its intention to drop North Korea from its terrorist list. Removal of all trade sanctions, establishment of diplomatic relations and the signing of a formal peace treaty are expected to follow at later stages as the DPRK moves to complete denuclearisation.

In June, Japan announced it would lift some sanctions in light of North Korea’s recent cooperation on the issue of abducted Japanese civilians.

On 30 May, North Korea fired three short-range missiles into the Yellow Sea. The missile tests did not provoke much reaction, as they were fired well away from waters contested by South Korea.

North Korea’s 23 million citizens face a devastating food crisis. The UN World Food Programme warned in April that the annual food deficit is expected to increase from 1 million tons in 2007 to 1.66 million tons this year. The US announced on 16 May that it would transport 500,000 tons of emergency food aid to supplement the existing aid-for-disarmament deal. In mid-June, Russia also began food deliveries.

Related Developments in the Human Rights Council (HRC)
The HRC resolution adopted on 25 March expressed deep concern at the “systematic, widespread and grave violations” of human rights in North Korea and alarm at “the precarious humanitarian situation in the country”. The resolution also extended the mandate of the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in the DPRK.

Options
The Council has the following options:

  • receive the briefing and take no action;
  • issue a press statement welcoming the DPRK’s progress towards denuclearisation; and
  • initiate a review of sanctions and request the Committee to consider possible options or recommendations in light of developments.

Key Issue
The key issue is whether the Council should play a role in seeking to encourage the recent developments by adding multilateral incentives to incentives offered bilaterally. A sanctions review is a possible device in this regard, although actual removal of UN sanctions is unlikely at this stage, given the US position.

Council Dynamics
The Sanctions Committee has been inactive for many months. Previously, most felt that non-engagement by the Council was the best strategy. There are no major indications that this will change. There seems to be little desire for the Council to assume a more proactive role.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1718 (14 October 2006) expressed grave concern over the DPRK’s nuclear test, imposed sanctions and set up the Sanctions Committee.

Selected Letter

  • S/2007/778 (31 December 2007) transmitted the Sanctions Committee’s activities for the year 2007 to the Council.

Other

  • Letters submitted from UN member states on implementing resolution 1718.
  • IAEA report (17 August 2007) (GOV/2007/45-GC(51)/19) verified the shutdown of the Yongbyon reactor.
  • A/HRC/7/L.28 (25 March 2008) condemned the DPRK’s human rights violations.

Full forecast