DPRK (North Korea)
Expected Council Action
In August, the chair of the 1718 Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Román Oyarzun (Spain), is due to brief Council members in consultations on the Committee’s work.
Key Recent Developments
Pyongyang has maintained its defiant posture following the Council’s decision on 2 March in resolution 2270 to expand sanctions against the DPRK (for further details, please refer to our 26 February What’s in Blue story). The DPRK has since conducted missile launches on 10 and 18 March, 27 and 28 April, 31 May, 21 June, and 9 and 19 July.
On 4 May, Oyarzun briefed Council members in consultations on the work of the 1718 DPRK Committee. There was also a discussion about the press statement proposed by the US on 29 April in response to the DPRK’s failed missile launches on 27 and 28 April. While initially blocked by Russia, the press statement was issued on 1 June. Council members condemned the DPRK’s failed missile launches on 27 and 28 April and 31 May, which they said were in grave violation of relevant Council resolutions. They called on all member states to redouble their efforts to implement fully the measures against the DPRK, in particular those contained in resolution 2270, which expanded sanctions on the DPRK, and to report on these efforts to the Council as soon as possible, while also welcoming efforts to facilitate a peaceful and comprehensive solution through dialogue.
At the request of the US and Japan, Council members held consultations on 22 June and were briefed by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenča on the medium-range missile launches conducted by the DPRK on 21 June. After several recent failures, the DPRK successfully launched a Musudan intermediate-range missile with a strike range of 2,500 to 4,000 kilometres. The US and Japan said that, in addition, the DPRK unsuccessfully attempted to launch another Musudan missile the same day. The Musudan’s range allows it to reach targets in the Pacific islands.
In a 23 June press statement, members strongly condemned the launches and reiterated the main elements of the 1 June press statement. DPRK sent a letter to the Council president on 25 June, rejecting the press statement as “devoid of impartiality and a product of a double standard”.
At the end of June, the US, the Republic of Korea (RoK) and Japan conducted their first joint missile-tracking drill, off the shores of Hawaii. The DPRK called the drill a “military provocation”. On 8 July, the US and the RoK announced an agreement to install a battery of the US’ Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defence system in RoK by the end of 2017. According to RoK officials, a DPRK submarine conducted a failed attempt to launch a ballistic missile on the following day.
The DPRK launched two short-range Scud missiles and one Rodong intermediate-range missile on 19 July, in what it called a simulation of pre-emptive strikes against the RoK and US military facilities on the Korean Peninsula.
China and Russia expressed their own reservations concerning the THAAD battery deployment, as its monitoring capabilities could potentially cover their territories.
The 1718 DPRK Sanctions Committee agreed on 25 May on a template intended to help member states prepare on a voluntary basis the national implementation reports requested by the Council in resolution 2270 to be submitted by 30 May. The template was circulated to all member states.
The Committee also met on 15 June to discuss implementation of resolution 2270. The Committee had before it 36 national implementation reports, about a third of which were based on the template agreed upon by the Committee. Committee members also exchanged views on the recent reports of missile launches by the DPRK.
A key issue for the Council is the DPRK’s growing threat to international peace and security as it continues to develop its nuclear and ballistic-missile capabilities.
Another main issue is whether the tightening of sanctions will achieve the stated objectives of preventing the DPRK from making further progress and inducing Pyongyang to engage with the international community on the issue of denuclearisation.
A further issue is the need to ensure effective implementation of the new sanctions by all member states, while avoiding adverse humanitarian consequences or negative effects on legitimate livelihood activities, as specified in resolution 2270.
One option for the Council is to change the format of the chair’s briefing from a closed to an open meeting—or conduct both—to provide a forum for Council members to publicly express their concerns about the DPRK’s actions and remind member states about the importance of implementing resolution 2270.
At the Committee-level, the main option is to work closely with the Panel of Experts to assist states with implementation of the new sanctions measures and provide additional guidance, when needed, without delay.
A further option is to encourage more member states to submit national implementation reports, particularly by making use of the template adopted by the Committee.
Council members appear united in their concern about the DPRK’s continuing provocations and its nuclear and ballistic-missile tests and are closely monitoring the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Nevertheless, there are no signs yet of any changes in Pyongyang’s positions or any readiness to stop its weapons programs and engage with the international community. Council members are therefore mostly focused on ensuring full implementation of the new measures by all member states.
One particular matter of concern for some member states is the apparently successful test of the Musudan missile on 21 June. Its successful launch is considered a steppingstone for the further development of long-range ballistic missiles that will be able to reach the western US in the future.
The US is the penholder on the DPRK.
UN Documents on the DPRK
|Security Council Resolutions|
|24 March 2016 S/RES/2276||This was a resolution extending the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 1718 DPRK Sanctions Committee, and deciding that the Panel’s mandate should apply with respect to measures imposed in resolution 2270.|
|2 March 2016 S/RES/2270||This was a resolution condemning in the strongest terms the nuclear test conducted by DPRK on 6 January 2016 and its ballistic missile launch of 7 February 2016, and demanding that it comply immediately with its international obligations.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|23 June 2016 SC/12418||This was a press statement that strongly condemned the medium-range missile launches conducted by the DPRK on 21 June.|
|1 June 2016 SC/12385||This was a press statement that condemned the DPRK’s failed missile launches conducted on 27 and 28 April and 31 May which were in grave violation of relevant Council resolutions.|
|15 April 2016 SC/12326||This condemned the DPRK’s failed missile launch.|
|18 March 2016 SC/12293||This was a press statement condemning the ballistic missile launches of 10 and 18 March 2016.|
|24 April 2016 SC/12335||This condemned the 23 April ballistic missile launch|
|Security Council Letter|
|29 July 2016 S/2016/575||This was a DPRK letter rejecting the Council’s 23 June press statement.|
|Sanctions Committee Documents|
|4 April 2016 S/2016/308||This was a letter from the Committee chair containing the list of additional prohibited goods.|
|21 March 2016 SC/12296||Four ships were delisted following assurances from China that the ships would no longer use crew from the DPRK.|
|24 February 2016 S/2016/157||This was the Panel of Experts’ final report.|
|Human Rights Council Documents|
|23 March 2016 A/HRC/RES/31/18||This was a resolution on the human rights situation in the DPRK.|
|19 January 2016 A/HRC/31/70||This was a report to the Human Rights Council by the special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK.|