May 2010 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 April 2010
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DPRK (North Korea)


Expected Council Action
In May the chair of the DPRK Sanctions Committee is expected to brief the Council and the final report of the Panel of Experts which assists the Committee is due in early May. No substantive Council decision is expected, however, the mandate of the panel expires on 12 June.

Key Recent Developments
On 11 February the chair of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) Sanctions Committee briefed Council members in informal consultations. He advised that the Panel had prepared ideas for the Committee on a comprehensive review of the reports received from member states on the implementation of resolutions 1718 and 1874. He also briefed members on the Committee’s decision on procedural guidelines for the organisation of country visits by the Panel. The question of possible unintended effects of Council sanctions on the work of diplomatic missions in the DPRK was also mentioned. (Many commercial and financial institutions have been reluctant to provide services to diplomatic missions in Pyongyang out of fear of violating the sanctions.)

Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe visited the DPRK from 9 to 12 February with the stated objective of discussing “all issues of mutual interest and concern in a comprehensive manner.” Pascoe held talks with Kim Yong-Nam, the DPRK’s official number two leader. He subsequently told the press that he had conveyed the Secretary-General’s view that negotiations within the framework of the six-party nuclear disarmament talks should start as soon as possible and without preconditions. Pascoe was the highest-ranking UN official to visit the country since 2004.

On 26 March a Republic of Korea (ROK) navy ship sank as a result of an explosion near a disputed maritime border between the DPRK and ROK, killing dozens of sailors. Investigations are continuing but initial results suggest a high possibility that an external explosion had led to the disaster. The event has significantly raised tensions on the peninsula. On 17 April, the DPRK denied involvement in the sinking of the vessel. On 18 April the ROK indicated that it might request the Security Council to take up the issue.

On 29 March the DPRK announced its intention to construct a light water reactor. Analysts have noted this might suggest that the DPRK plans to hasten the rate of its uranium-enrichment activities. However, the country is thought not to possess yet the technology to build such a facility.

During the week of 19 April media reports suggested that the DPRK had been preparing to carry out another nuclear test, possibly in May or June, seeking recognition as an official nuclear weapons state.

Human Rights-Related Developments

During its March session, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution A/HRC/13/L.13 on the situation of human rights in the DPRK by a vote of 28 for, five against and 13 abstentions. The resolution expressed concern at ongoing grave, widespread and systematic human rights violations in the country. It also extended the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in DPRK for a period of one year and urged full cooperation with him.

Key Issues
A key issue is the continued lack of clarity about whether or when the DPRK will return to the six-party nuclear disarmament talks, and whether the Council can facilitate such negotiations.

Another issue is whether the Council should continue to limit its role to monitoring the implementation of the sanctions currently in place.

Options for the Council include:

  • taking no public action at present;
  • deciding in May to formally renew the mandate of the Panel of Experts rather than waiting till June (which would provide an opportunity for Council members in their national statements to reinforce that the sanctions do not apply to supplies to diplomatic missions); and
  • a presidential or press statement calling for recommencement of the six-party talks without preconditions.

Council Dynamics
Council members expect the briefing by the chair of the DPRK committee to be routine. Members are not actively considering the question of whether sanctions should be modified at this stage.

Many Council members sense that this prevailing Council dynamic could change, however, if the ROK were to refer to the Council any findings that implicated the DPRK in the sinking of its naval ship. The US has indicated that it will support the Council in such an event.

Council dynamics would similarly be affected if the DPRK were to carry out another nuclear test.

Council members continue to view the Panel of Experts as useful in allowing the Sanctions Committee to be more effective. The anticipated submission of the Panel’s report is therefore expected to feed into the ongoing work of the Committee. The early submission of the report—one month ahead of the renewal of the Panel’s mandate in June—allows time for its consideration well before the mandate expires.

UN Documents

Selected Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1887 (24 September 2009) reaffirmed that nuclear proliferation is a threat to international peace and security.
  • S/RES/1874 (12 June 2009) condemned the DPRK’s underground nuclear test and expanded sanctions on the country.
  • 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 and to honour its non-proliferation obligations under the NPT.

Selected Presidential Statement

  • 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.

Latest Sanction Committee Annual Report

Selected Letters

  • S/2009/416 (12 August 2009) was from the Secretary-General informing the Council of the appointment of the Panel of Experts.
  • S/2009/364 (16 July 2009) was from the Sanctions Committee designating additional entities and materials, as well as individuals subject to sanctions.
  • S/2009/222 (24 April 2009) was from the Sanctions Committee designating new entities and materials subject to sanctions.
  • S/2009/205 (14 April 2009) was from the Sanctions Committee updating items, equipment, goods and technology prohibited from being imported or exported by the DPRK.

Other Relevant Facts

Chair of the 1718 Sanctions Committee

Ertugrul Apakan (Turkey)

Useful Additional Source

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