November 2010 Monthly Forecast


DPRK (North Korea)

Expected Council Action
In November the chair of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Sanctions Committee is expected to brief the Council and the committee’s panel of experts is expected to provide a midterm report on its work, which is due by 12 November. No new Council decision is expected.

Key Recent Developments
Recent media reports have suggested that the US and Japan had rejected a recent Chinese proposal to resume six-party talks (involving the DPRK, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Russia and the US). The US State Department spokesman said on 25 October he could not speak about any proposals made by other countries, but that the US would continue high-level consultations with the six-party partners. On 12 October a DPRK representative to six-party talks met with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi. Following the meeting, a Chinese foreign ministry representative called on other participants in the six-party process to restart negotiations on the DPRK’s nuclear programme. Another Chinese official asserted the DPRK was committed to returning to the talks.

On 21 October media reports suggested that satellite imagery had detected increased activity at a DPRK nuclear testing site, citing a ROK government source. On 16 October the DPRK state news media criticised the ROK and the US for holding recent joint military exercises, saying they were provocative and risked war.

However, some positive moves have occurred. On 25 October the ROK sent a large shipment of rice to the DPRK. Such humanitarian food shipments had been suspended for over two years. On 18 October the DPRK and the ROK conducted a test call on a re-established hot line between their main international airports (the hot line had been severed in May in the wake of the sinking of an ROK navy ship). And on 1 October the ROK and the DPRK agreed to allow a series of reunions to take place for families separated by the Korean War.

In mid-October 2010 the Panel of Experts completed a country visit to the United Arab Emirates in connection with a shipment seized there in August 2009. (The shipment in question, carried by the ANL-Australia, allegedly originated in the DPRK and was bound for Iran with arms.)

On 28 September, Kim Jong Un, the youngest son of DPRK leader Kim Jong Il, was appointed to key positions during a rare conference of the Workers’ Party of Korea. The conference, which is thought to have been called to put in place succession plans, had been delayed by two weeks, which prompted speculation about the health of Kim Jong Il. Kim Jong Un was named a vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, which oversees the country’s forces. He was also appointed to the Workers’ Party Central Committee, which functions as a policymaking mechanism in the country. The appointments apparently came just a day after he was promoted to a four-star general in the military.

In addressing the General Assembly on 29 September, DPRK Deputy Foreign Minister Pak Kil Yon said the sovereignty of his country continued to be threatened by the ROK and the US. On 25 September, ROK Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Shin Kak-soo told the General Assembly that no sustainable peace could be achieved on the Korean Peninsula without the DPRK giving up its nuclear weapons programme. 

Human Rights-Related Developments
In a report of 30 September, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) publication Refworld, which provides information necessary for taking quality decisions on refugee status and is issued by the Division of International Protection Services of UNHCR, published a report on the DPRK stating that North Korea remained the most repressive media environment in the world in 2009. The government owned all media, sought to regulate all communication, and limited the ability of North Koreans to have access to information. Refworld notes that although the constitution theoretically guarantees freedom of speech, other constitutional provisions calling for adherence to a “collective spirit” are invoked to limit all reporting that is not sanctioned by the government.

Key Issues
A key issue is whether the sanctions regime is effective. A related issue is maintaining support among Council members for the continued implementation of sanctions currently in place. Another issue is whether the sanctions should be modified.

Underlying Problems
A persistent underlying problem is the lack of trust regarding the DPRK and particularly with regard to a lack of transparency about its intentions for its nuclear weapons programme.

Options include:

Council and Wider Dynamics
Council members expect the upcoming quarterly briefing by the chair of the DPRK committee to be rather technical and to focus on the activities of the committee over the preceding three months. It appears likely that the Panel of Experts’ midterm report will feature in the briefing. It seems that no new sanctions violations were reported in the current period.

Most Council members seem to remain supportive of the established approach to the DPRK involving broad support in the Council for the implementation of the sanctions regime at its existing level. Most do not appear to favour expanding the scope of the existing sanctions regime at the present time. Some stress that it remains the DPRK’s responsibility to change its behaviour and the sanctions already in place are sufficient, especially if accompanied by a consistent message from the Council.

Although it remains unclear when or if the DPRK will return to six-party negotiations on its nuclear disarmament in a substantive way, Council members seem to recognise that developments or a lack of progress on this front may be a determining factor when considering future Council action related to the nuclear programme.

UN Documents


Selected Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1928 (7 June 2010) extended the mandate of the panel of experts that assists the DPRK Sanctions Committee until 12 June 2011.
  • S/RES/1887 (24 September 2009) reaffirmed that the proliferation of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery are threats to international peace and security, and reaffirmed earlier resolutions related to the DPRK’s nuclear weapons and missile programmes.
  • 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, and provided for the creation of a panel of experts to assist the committee.
  • 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 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) 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 Sanctions Committee Annual Report

Selected Letters

  • S/2010/527 (14 October 2010) from the Secretary-General, informed the president of the Council about his filling of two vacancies on the panel of experts.
  • S/2009/364 (16 July 2009) from the sanctions committee, designated additional materials, entities and individuals subject to sanctions.
  • S/2009/222 (24 April 2009) from the sanctions committee, designated new entities and materials subject to sanctions.
  • S/2009/205 (14 April 2009) from the sanctions committee, updated a list of items, equipment, goods and technology prohibited from being imported or exported by the DPRK.

Other Relevant Facts

Chairman of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1718 (2006)

Ambassador Ertu─črul Apakan (Turkey)

Useful Additional Source
David Albright and Paul Brannan, Taking Stock: North Korea’s Uranium Enrichment Program, Institute for Science and International Security, 8 October 2010

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