June 2012 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 June 2012
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DPRK (North Korea)

Expected Council Action
The Council in June is expected to extend the mandate of the Panel of Experts (PoE) that assists the 1718 Sanctions Committee dealing with the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea). The PoE’s present mandate expires on 12 June. 

By early June, the Committee is expected to have discussed the PoE’s final report, which was provided to the Committee in mid-May. After this discussion, under the terms of resolution 1985, the PoE is then requested to submit the report to the Council “upon termination of its mandate.”

Key Recent Developments
On 2 May, Portugal—as chair of the 1718 Committee—submitted a report to the Council President, in accordance with the presidential statement (S/PRST/2012/13) of 16 April. (The statement strongly condemned the failed 12 April launch by the DPRK of a satellite into space, determining it a violation of resolutions 1718 and 1874.)

The Committee’s report stated that it had undertaken the tasks that the Council had directed it to: adding designations and updating existing sanctions on the DPRK. Specifically, the Committee designated three additional entities—companies based in Pyongyang—to be subject to the sanctions regime. The activities of the three corporations, which are closely connected to companies already subject to sanctions, relate to financing the DPRK’s sales of conventional weapons and ballistic missiles, including potentially supplying missile-related goods to Iran. 

The Committee, as instructed by the Council, also updated the information contained on two lists of technical items that are prohibited from transfer to and from the DPRK. The first list relates to sensitive ballistic missile technology that could be used to advance the DPRK’s ballistic missile programme and the second relates to nuclear technology. 

As scheduled, the Committee’s chair, Ambassador José Filipe Moraes Cabral (Portugal), briefed the Council in consultations on the Committee’s work on 17 May. During the consultations, it seems that the US emphasised that the Council should be prepared to respond quickly if there are further violations by the DPRK of the sanctions regime. (The consultations took place amid continuing concerns that the DPRK might undertake a third nuclear test, as it did following missile launches in both 2006 and 2009.)

On 13 May, the president of the Republic of Korea (ROK), Lee Myung-bak, met with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in Beijing. “Our three countries agreed that we will not accept further nuclear tests or further provocations from North Korea,” Lee told reporters following the meeting. Wen called on the involved parties to “use their wisdom, keep patient, and display goodwill to the greatest extent so as to ease confrontation and return to the right track of dialogue and negotiations.”

Trilateral talks also took place between the US, the ROK and Japan on 21 May in Seoul. US Special Envoy Glyn Davies told reporters that the main message that the countries wanted to convey to Pyongyang was that it should “not miscalculate again and engage in any future provocation.” Warning that further provocative action would be “met with similar united action by the world community,” Davies said that the three countries expected the DPRK to “make a different set of decisions” and stop devoting its resources to its nuclear programme. (On 23 May, the ROK reiterated that the DPRK was “technically ready” to conduct another nuclear test.)

On 17 May, Reuters reported that the PoE’s latest report, which has not yet been finalised or submitted to the Council, states that the DPRK continues to actively defy Council sanctions against it. The wire service also indicated that the PoE was investigating reports of possible DPRK weapons-related shipments to Syria and Myanmar.

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council is ensuring that tensions on the Korean Peninsula do not escalate. Of particular concern to Council members is the DPRK’s propensity to undertake nuclear tests or further provocative actions in violation of Council resolutions after conducting a missile launch. 

At the Committee level, a key issue is ensuring that the Committee can continue to work constructively now that the gridlock that existed prior to its recent agreements has been eased. (The designations in the Committee’s 2 May report were the first such additions it had agreed to since July 2009.) 

A key issue at present is the wording of the PoE’s mandate renewal. Both resolutions, 1874 (2009) establishing the PoE and 1928 (2010) renewing its mandate, requested that it provide a final report “to the Council” no later than thirty days prior to the termination of its mandate. (The PoE’s final report was published in 2010, but the 2011 report has not been published.) After negotiations last year, resolution 1985—again renewing the PoE’s mandate—requested it to submit its final report first to the Committee and then, “after a discussion with the Committee”, to the Council.

One option for the Council is to extend the mandate of the PoE under the same conditions for another year. (The PoE comprises seven experts: one from each of the P5, as well as one each from Japan and the ROK.)

Another option is to revise the reporting provision in the mandate by asking the PoE to report “through the Committee”—language used for sanctions monitoring mechanisms established prior to 2009. 

One further option might be for the Council itself to address the issue of publication of the PoE’s 2011 report and take a procedural vote on the matter.

Council and Wider Dynamics
The Council’s presidential statement of 16 April and the Committee’s follow-up action were seen by several members as significant; they broke the gridlock that had often prevented the Committee from reaching agreement. Yet strong divisions are likely to remain. Divergences have traditionally related to differing opinions as to the best means of inducing Pyongyang to comply with Council resolutions. The US, the UK and other European members in particular have been in favour of exerting pressure on the DPRK not to engage in provocative behaviour, including through strengthening existing measures when violations occur. China, on the other hand, seems to favour a “proportional” response and emphasises that engaging the DPRK in dialogue is more likely to yield positive results.

At the Committee level, a point of difference has been the conduct of the PoE’s work. China, in particular, has argued that the PoE should work within its mandate and has reiterated that its sources must be credible. Such concerns raised by China have prevented the publication of the May 2011 report. Others on the Committee have asserted that the report should be published without further delay. These members reiterate that all UN members pay for the PoE’s work and are entitled to see its recommendations.

One issue that could impact the negotiations over the text is whether the latest report will again be stalled. Several Council members have reasserted that ownership of the report remains with the PoE, and while the Committee can suggest that it make amendments, the Committee itself cannot alter the report. 

The US is the lead on DPRK issues in the Council. 

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1985 (10 June 2011) extended the mandate of the panel of experts that supports the DPRK Sanctions Committee until 12 June 2012 and asked the panel to provide its midterm and final reports to the Committee a month before they are submitted to the Council, in order to allow for a discussion.
  • S/RES/1874 condemned the DPRK’s 25 May 2009 underground nuclear test, expanded the sanctions regime and established a PoE with a mandate to “provide an interim report on its work to the Council no later than 90 days after adoption of this resolution, and a final report to the Council no later than 30 days prior to termination of its mandate with its findings and recommendations.”
  • S/RES/1718 (14 October 2006) expressed grave concern over the DPRK’s nuclear test, imposed sanctions and set up a sanctions committee.
Presidential Statement
  • S/PRST/2012/13 (16 April 2012) strongly condemned the DPRK’s launch as a serious violation of resolutions 1718 and 1874, directed the Committee to take steps to update and strengthen the sanctions regime and expressed determination to act in the event of another DPRK launch or nuclear test.
  • S/2012/287 (2 May 2012) contains the Committee’s report designating additional entities and items and updating the Committee’s list, in accordance with S/PRST/2012/13.
  • S/2012/235 (18 April 2012) was the letter from the US to the Secretary-General containing a list of items, materials, equipment, goods and technology related to ballistic missile programmes, which it anticipated discussing in relation to the PRST (above) of 16 April.
  • S/2012/236 (18 April 2012) was the letter from the US to the Secretary-General containing a list of chemical and biological items, materials, equipment, goods and technologies related to other weapons of mass destruction programmes which it anticipated discussing in relation to the PRST (above) of 16 April.

Other Relevant Facts

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

Ambassador José Filipe Moraes Cabral (Portugal).

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