DPR Korea urged to ‘embrace diplomacy’ after latest ballistic missile launch


Repeated long-range ballistic missile launches by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) represent a serious threat to international air and sea transportation, a senior UN official told the Security Council on Tuesday. 

“At this particularly difficult moment in securing global peace and security, it is imperative to deescalate the situation on the Korean Peninsula so that it once again becomes an area for cooperation,” said Khaled Khiari, UN Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific.

Mr. Khiari briefed the Council in the wake of the latest launch which took place at 8:24 AM local time on Monday, according to the DPRK’s official news agency and various government sources.

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Five launches this year 

The Hwasong-18 type intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) flew a distance of some 1,000 kilometres and reached an altitude of 6,500 kilometres before falling into the sea.

This marked the fifth launch of an ICBM this year, following a Hwasong-15 in February, a Hwasong-17 in March, and solid-fuel Hwasong-18 missiles in April and July, he said, adding that the systems are reportedly capable of reaching most points on Earth.

The DPRK, more commonly known as North Korea, also announced last month that it had carried out two successful tests of a new engine for a solid-fuel intermediate range ballistic missile.

Secretary-General’s condemnation 

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has strongly condemned the 18 December launch and urged the DPRK to fully comply with its international obligations under all relevant Security Council resolutions.

In a statement, the UN chief also reiterated his call on the country “to reopen communication channels, and to resume dialogue without preconditions to achieve sustainable peace and the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Mr. Khiari stressed that the launch of yet another ICBM is of serious concern, noting that despite numerous Council meetings on the matter this year, the DPRK did not heed its strong call to refrain.

Violating Council resolutions 

“In addition, regrettably the DPRK did once again not issue any airspace or maritime safety notifications. The unannounced launches represent a serious risk to international civil aviation and maritime traffic,” he said. 

He recalled that on 21 November, the DPRK successfully placed into orbit a reconnaissance satellite using ballistic missile technology, announcing it would launch “several reconnaissance satellites in a short span of time”, he added. 

“We reiterate that any launch by the DPRK using ballistic missile technology is a violation of relevant Security Council resolutions, and we strongly urge the DPRK to refrain from such actions,” said Mr. Khiari.

Embrace diplomacy, abandon isolation 

He called on Council Members “to unite and make full use of the tools of dialogue, diplomacy, and negotiation, while fully complying with all Security Council resolutions.” At the same time, he urged the DPRK “to embrace diplomacy, rather than choosing isolation, as the way forward.”

Separately, Mr. Khiari also drew attention to the humanitarian situation in the DPRK, underlining that the UN is ready to assist the country in addressing the needs of its vulnerable populations. 

“We note that international travel in and out of the DPRK is now taking place at a growing rate,” he said.  “We urge the DPRK to allow the re-entry and rotation of the international community, including the UN Resident Coordinator and UN agencies.” 

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