Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Mr. Gennadiy Gatilov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, at the Security Council meeting on non-proliferation/Democratic People's Republic of Korea

 There is no doubt that what we are living through at present is one of the most acute and dramatic phases of developments on the Korean peninsula. Without exaggeration, peace in the region recently underwent a serious test, and the threat of this confrontation moving into a hot phase was higher as than ever, and it remains so today.The belligerent rhetoric coupled with reckless muscle-flexing has led to a situation where the whole world is now seriously wondering whether there is going to be a war or not. As is well known, under the conditions of such tension, one ill-thought-out or misinterpreted step could lead to the most terrible and lamentable consequences.

In Russia, we are watching the dangerous development of the situation in the region with alarm, as we ourselves are part of the region. Of course, we are united in condemning the provocative nuclearmissile activity by Pyongyang, which over the past 18 months, it has taken on a very dangerous dynamic. We do understand very well the feelings of our neighbours when another missile is launched from North Korean territory without a notification, thereby subjecting the lives of people and maritime and aviation transport to disproportionate risks. We reject such activity by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which is confirmed by our support of the sanctions resolutions adopted by the Security Council, namely, resolutions 2270 (2016) and 2321 (2016). 

We call upon the North Korean authorities to end their proscribed programmes, return to the non-proliferation regime and join once again the International Atomic Energy Agency verification regime. At the same time, it should be clear for everyone that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will probably not give up its nuclear weapons as long as it sense that the existence of a direct threat to their security, which is exactly how the North Koreans view the regular large-scale manoeuvres and exercises by the United States and its alliesin the region. That is how they view the dispatch of the American naval armada to the region that we have witnessed this month.

An additional destabilizing factor in the region is the decision — taken by Washington and Seoul last year in line with the wrong logic of creating a global missile defence system — to place on the territory of the Republic of Korea elements of the United States missile defence system known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense. We have said on many occasions that this step woul not only, to put it mildly, not be viewed with enthusiasm by Pyongyang, but it would also undermine the existing military balance in the region, thereby jeopardizes the security of neighbouring States. We are not the only ones who view this in a negative way. Once again, we call upon the United States and the Republic of Korea to review the desirability of such a step, and we call upon other members in the region to resist the temptation to become involved in such destabilizing efforts.  

As for international sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, we would like once again to reaffirm our commitment to their implementation. However, such measures should not be a goal in themselves, but rather an instrument to involve this country in constructive negotiations on existing issues. Resolving the nuclear issue of the Korean peninsula solely by imposing sanctions and placing pressure on Pyongyang is impossible.

Sanctions should not be used either economically to suffocate the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea nor to worsen the humanitarian situation. This applies in particular to the illegitimate unilateral restrictions targeting civilian areas not associated with the country’s nuclear missile programmes. Such sanctions are the reason for the serious deterioration in the living conditions of the North Korean people, which, incidentally, was identified as a cause for alarm in the most recent report of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. They are justifiably very almed about that. We must acknowledge that the humanitarian exemptions provided for by the Security Council’s sanctions regime essentially do not work. Because of the ban on correspondent relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, it is impossible to purchase abroad the goods and food stuffs necessary for the economy. Because of the way the financial and banking system works, it is very difficult to obtain funding for the United Nations humanitarian agencies that are still working in the country. Since Pyongyang cannot replenish its foreign currency reserves owing to the existing restrictions, it could find itself in a situation where it is impossible for it to give the United Nations the funds that are to be channelled to it, as permitted by the Committee.

A separate issue is the situation with regard to foreign diplomatic missions in Pyongyang. We should not allow a situation in which diplomatic missions continue to experience difficulties in carrying out their work because of the restrictions imposed on the country. We have repeatedly raised this issue at meetings of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1718 (2006), but as a result of the obstructionist position taken by its individual members, the situation has not changed at all.

Undoubtedly, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is conducting itself inappropriately. It refuses to abide by the laws of the international community, which are established in relevant Security Council resolutions. At the same time, the options for using force are completely unacceptable and can lead to catastrophic consequences for both the Korean peninsula and the region of North-East Asia as a whole. We should choose to use our diplomatic tools to the greatest extent possible. Under the current conditions, all parties involved should demonstrate calm and restraint and not take steps that could increase the tension.

We need to view the settlement of the situation in the context of the whole range of issues among the parties and thereby create the conditions for the denuclearization of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. This is impossible without normalizing the overall military and political situation, putting an end to the build-up of military infrastructure, scaling down the manoeuvring and building trust among States in the region. We are convinced that there is no alternative to a political settlement of the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula, on the basis of the joint statement issued on 19 September 2005 by the participants in the SixParty Talks.

The Chinese proposals are in the same vein when they talk about suspension for suspension and parallel moves. These ideas deserve serious attention, as they could be a starting point for us to overcome the current impasse and renew the negotiating process. We need to seek channels of communication with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea authorities and lead them to a substantive dialogue on nuclear and missile issues.

As recent events have shown, under no circumstances can we allow the situation in the region to develop on its own. As the saying goes, even bad peace is better than a good quarrel. In that connection, we are ready for closer interaction with all partners in order to settle the nuclear and other issues on the Korean peninsula as soon as possible through the only means possible — namely, political and diplomatic means — through mutually respectful dialogue and mutual consideration of interests and concerns.