Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Mr. Vladimir Safronkov, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, at the Security Council on Non-proliferation/Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Russia supported today’s adoption of the new resolution 2356 (2017), concerning sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The resolution we have just adopted demands that Pyongyang stop its inappropriate behaviour and submit to the legitimate demands of the international community. Missile launches, especially those carried out without warning, are unacceptable. They are not only a threat to transport security in the region, but also to the lives of people.

At the same time, we would like to draw attention to some controversial points of the resolution that we have just adopted. Of course, Pyongyang is violating the sanctions imposed on it. However, it does not supply components of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) to non-State actors. There is no direct connection between the implementation of resolution 1540 (2004) and the actions of the authorities in Pyongyang. The   practice of mentioning it in the context of sanctions must be stopped. It is counterproductive, especially for resolution 1540 (2004) itself.

Russia has repeatedly stated that resolution 1540 (2004) primarily serves as a platform for cooperation among States in order to prevent materials for weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of non-State actors. Without cooperation, it is impossible to achieve that goal at the global level. Attempts to drag the resolution into enforcement mechanisms will not work, especially in national jurisdictions. Supporters of maintaining the reference to resolution 1540 (2004) should understand that by doing so they undermine the inherent spirit of cooperation and interaction. In addition, countries that are already wary of this non-proliferation document are given an additional argument in favour of non-compliance. 

We also have serious doubts about the mention in the text of some other WMD programmes. The presence of that passage requires convincing evidence. The Security Council has no right to make mistakes and must operate with real facts, not with assumptions. We remember how the United States initiated a war against Iraq under the false pretext of the presence of WMDs in Baghdad. At the moment, there is no evidence that Pyongyang is developing chemical- or biological-weapons programmes. If any colleagues have relevant, convincing evidence about Pyongyang’s guilt on the matter, then we stand ready to look at it. The facts that we have at our disposal say the following.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a member of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and no claims against it have been made under the Convention. We also know that Pyongyang, while not a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, nevertheless actively encouraged Malaysia to involve the expertise of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the investigation of the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the final results of which have not yet been made public.

We would like to hear explanations from the United States regarding the broadening of American sanctions, announced on 1 June, against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It concerned three Russian companies and one Russian citizen. The step is perplexing and deeply disappointing.

We have repeatedly said that the mechanism of unilateral restriction is illegal from the point of view of international law. Practice shows the ineffectiveness of such measures and the destructiveness of the approach. The sledgeshammer of sanctions gets used as a universal method for solving world problems, instead of diplomatic tools. That fully applies to the recent decision of Washington, which does not contribute to the settlement of the situation around the Korean peninsula.

It is necessary to note that, after the change of Administration in the United States, sanctions by inertia remain a constant in American policy. That includes attempts to apply those sanctions to Russian organizations and citizens. Instead of starting to sort through the backlog that has accumulated in bilateral relations, Washington is doing the direct opposite, taking unfriendly steps that only complicate the normalization of our dialogue and cooperation in international affairs.

Pyongyang’s reckless endeavours should not give rise to an increase in military activity in the region and, even more so, the implementation of plans to use force. Confrontational logic is fraught with catastrophic consequences for both the Korean peninsula and the region as a whole. To us, it is absolutely clear that the choice should be made in favour of maximizing the use of diplomatic tools.

In that context, Chinese proposals on the twopronged freeze to North Korea’s nuclear missile programmes and the United States-South Korean exercises, while advancing the solutions to the problems that the peninsula is facing, deserve serious attention. We are ready to promote international efforts and in particular those of the United Nations aimed at a diplomatic detente on the Korean peninsula. We welcome the Secretary-General’s intention to raise the profile of the United Nations in resolving the tension around the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In order to find a formula for normalizing the situation, we ought not forget that sanctions against North Korea should not lead to a strangulation of its 25 million ordinary citizens, the vast majority of whom need urgent assistance. In that regard, we are convinced that, when it comes to humanitarian efforts, the United Nations must fulfill its duty. Dehumanizing the decisions and actions regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and other situations of crisis is unacceptable, regardless of how difficult those situations are.

The reason for the tension on the peninsula is not just Pyongyang’s nuclear missile programme. It also has to do with increased military activity by some regional and especially extra-regional States in North-East Asia. 

Another destabilizing factor is the recent deployment of components of the United States THAAD missile defence system on the territory of the Republic of Korea. We have repeatedly stated that such a move undermines the existing military balance in the region. It puts the security of neighbouring countries in a precarious position. Once again, we call on both the United States and the Republic of Korea to reconsider the expediency of such a step and think about its long-term consequences. We encourage others in the region to not be tempted to get involved in such destabilizing efforts.

It is now more important than ever to find a political solution. Some of our partners say that they are ready to renew contacts with Pyongyang, but under certain conditions. If we speak to one another in the language of ultimatums we will never move forward. The situation on the Korean peninsula and other acute contemporary crises require that we start working together as quickly as possible. Russia stands ready to start that kind of work.