November 2009 Monthly Forecast

Posted 2 November 2009
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DPRK (North Korea)

Expected Council Action
The chairman of the 1718 Sanctions Committee on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is expected to brief the Council in November.

The interim report of the Committee’s Panel of Experts is scheduled to be submitted by 11 November. The Council extended the deadline for the report by sixty days in September, when it was originally due.

At time of writing no Council action was expected.

Key Recent Developments
According to media reports on 16 October, the US decided to issue a visa to allow a senior DPRK official to visit New York. (The US has generally limited the issuance of visas to DPRK nationals.) The official is involved with negotiations on the country’s nuclear programme. The visit may be an initial step toward bilateral talks between the two nations.

The DPRK expressed to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on 5 October a willingness to return to the multilateral six-party talks on its nuclear programme if the US were willing to engage with the country bilaterally as well. The six-party talks include the DPRK, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea (South Korea), Russia and the US. The US has in the past declined to participate in direct bilateral talks.

On 15 October the DPRK claimed that South Korean warships had crossed into its waters, and warned that this might trigger a military clash between the two countries. South Korea denied that any of its ships had entered DPRK waters.

On 14 October the DPRK expressed regret for the deaths of six South Koreans killed on 6 September in floodwaters released upstream by the DPRK. The DPRK claimed that the release of water had been a necessary emergency measure, but it also assured South Korea that it would be notified of similar releases of water in the future.

On 12 October, the DPRK tested a number of short-range missiles off its eastern coast.

On 9 October, President Lee Myung-Bak of South Korea and newly elected Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama of Japan held a joint news conference in which they expressed unity in confronting the DPRK over the nuclear and ballistic-missile issues. The two leaders said they remained resolute about enforcing existing Council resolutions, while pursuing increased dialogue and a diplomatic solution based on the six-party talks. They warned that unless a significant change in behaviour becomes apparent, economic cooperation with the DPRK would be counterproductive. Their joint stance was consistent with the statement made by Hatoyama to the UN General Assembly on 24 September.

On 28 September the DPRK vice foreign minister, Pak Kil Yon, addressed the General Assembly. He asserted that the DPRK’s nuclear arsenal was for defensive purposes and that the country would act to prevent any nuclear proliferation. His address followed the Council meeting on nuclear issues chaired by US President Barack Obama on 24 September, where the Council unanimously approved resolution 1887. This resolution reaffirmed that the proliferation of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery are threats to international peace and security, and supported a renewed commitment to nuclear arms reductions and disarmament. While not specifically naming the DPRK, the resolution reaffirmed resolutions related to the DPRK’s nuclear weapons and missile programmes and to its non-proliferation obligations, including 825 (1993), 1695 (2006), 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009).

On 14 September the Council held consultations on DPRK sanctions. The Council extended the deadline for the interim report of the 1718 Committee’s Panel of Experts, and heard that the Committee continues to investigate an alleged shipment of arms from the DPRK to Iran. That shipment was seized by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on 14 August. The ship, the ANL-Australia, was flying the Bahamas flag though it is Australian-owned. The UAE reported the incident to the 1718 Committee, which subsequently sent letters to the DPRK and Iran on 25 August informing them of the seizure and requiring a response within 15 days. Such an arms shipment would mean that both the DPRK and Iran were in violation of resolution 1874, which on 12 June reinforced and expanded the ban on all arms exports from the DPRK and authorised states to search ships and seize prohibited items.

On 8 September the US froze the assets of the DPRK’s General Bureau of Atomic Energy and a corporation believed to facilitate the country’s missile programme.

On 3 September the DPRK’s Permanent Representative to the UN wrote to the Council rejecting the validity of sanctions imposed against it and stating that it would not respond to requests for information made by the 1718 Committee. The letter said the DPRK was continuing to weaponise plutonium, and that “[e]xperimental uranium enrichment has been successfully conducted to enter into the completion phase”.

Human Rights-Related Developments

On 22 October Vitit Muntarbhorn, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK, presented his latest report to the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee (Third Committee) of the General Assembly. He reported significant shortfalls in fundamental freedoms from the angles of freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom from persecution and freedom from exploitation. As much as one-third of the population suffers from chronic hunger, and the entrenchment of a non-democratic system has facilitated an ongoing pattern of torture, executions and abductions.

On 7 December, the DPRK’s human rights record will come under scrutiny in the Human Rights Council (HRC) under the Universal Periodic Review process. Earlier this year, the HRC expressed serious concern at human rights violations in the DPRK and urged it to engage fully and positively with the HRC during the periodic review process.

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council is whether the DPRK will return substantive negotiations on its nuclear programme and the ongoing role if any for the Council.

Another key issue is the Sanctions Committee’s Panel of Experts, authorised in resolution 1874. At press time the Chinese member of the Panel had not yet arrived in New York. While this is not expected to prevent the production of the interim report, it may affect work to some degree. While this is not expected to prevent the production of the interim report, the Panel’s lack of members may affect its work to some degree.

Moreover, the Committee and the Panel will need to establish how work will proceed. (Resolution 1874 requests the Panel inter alia to “gather, examine and analyze information” regarding incidents of non-compliance.) A related issue for the Committee will be whether to designate additional entities or individuals as subject to the sanctions regime.

Council and Wider Dynamics
It is expected that the 1718 Committee briefing will address the alleged arms shipment on the ANL-Australia, which is under investigation by the Committee and its Panel of Experts, and will outline plans for outreach to member states.

While the 1718 Committee was somewhat limited in its activities until earlier this year, most Council members seem to agree that a more active Committee is desirable. However, there also appears to be a shared recognition by Council members that developments on the diplomatic front, in terms of the six-party talks and bilateral engagement with the US, could be a determining factor when considering whether further Council action is desirable.

UN Documents

Selected Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1887 (24 September 2009) was the resolution on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament adopted at the meeting chaired by US President Obama.
  • S/RES/1874 (12 June 2009) condemned the DPRK’s 25 May underground nuclear test, expanded the existing arms embargo and authorised inspection of cargoes to and from the DPRK, as well as vessels on the high seas.
  • S/RES/1718 (14 October 2006) expressed grave concern over the DPRK’s nuclear test, imposed sanctions and set up a sanctions committee.
  • S/RES/1695 (15 July 2006) condemned the DPRK’s launch of ballistic missiles.
  • S/RES/825 (11 May 1993) called on the DPRK to reconsider withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and to honour its non-proliferation obligations under the NPT.

Selected Presidential Statements

  • S/PRST/2009/7 (13 April 2009) condemned the 5 April launch of a rocket by the DPRK, saying it was in contravention of resolution 1718.
  • S/PRST/2006/41 (6 October 2006) was the statement expressing concern over the DPRK’s declaration that it would conduct a nuclear test.

Sanctions Committee Annual Reports

Selected Letters

  • S/2009/443 (3 September 2009) was the letter from the DPRK to the Council stating it had entered the final stage of enriching uranium.
  • S/2009/416 (12 August 2009) was the letter from the Secretary-General informing the president of the Council about his appointment of a Panel of Experts for the 1718 Sanctions Committee.
  • S/2009/364 (16 July 2009) was the letter from the Sanctions Committee designating additional entities and materials, as well as individuals subject to sanctions.
  • S/2009/222 (24 April 2009) was the letter from the Sanctions Committee designating new entities and materials subject to sanctions.
  • S/2009/205 (14 April 2009) was the letter from the Sanctions Committee updating a list of items, equipment, goods and technology prohibited from being imported or exported by the DPRK.

Other Relevant Facts

Acting Chairman of the 1718 Sanctions Committee

Fazli Corman (Turkey)

Useful Additional Sources