US, Europeans condemn North Korea submarine missile launch at UN

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The United States, Britain and France confirmed Wednesday to the UN that North Korea has made progress in its weapons programs following the groundbreaking launch of a ballistic missile from a submarine.

Speaking to the media one after the other, ahead of a closed-door Security Council meeting that had been urgently called by Washington and London, the ambassadors of the western states all condemned the launch the day before as a new “provocation.”

Without speaking of possible new sanctions or joint action by the council, they said they would call for existing international sanctions to be more effectively implemented. 

At the end of the meeting, neither China nor Russia, the two other permanent members of the Security Council, spoke out. 

According to diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity, no member of the Security Council proposed a joint statement from the body. 

During the last emergency closed-door meeting, held on October 1 after North Korean missile tests, France proposed the adoption of a joint text but Beijing and Moscow refused, according to diplomats.

“We firmly condemn this provocative action which constitutes a clear violation of the UN Security Council resolutions,” said Geraldine Byrne Nason, the ambassador for Ireland, which together with Estonia joined the confirmation of North Korea’s weapons capability upgrade.

She said the submarine missile launch “underlines the continued enhancement of the nuclear and ballistic program of the DPRK (Democratic Republic of North Korea), which stated its ambition to ultimately acquire sea-based nuclear capabilities.” 

In 2017, then-US president Donald Trump persuaded the Security Council to unanimously adopt three series of increasingly strict economic sanctions against North Korea, hitting imports of oil into the country as well as its exports of coal, iron, fish and textiles.

‘Be more serious’ 

“The DPRK must immediately end its destabilising actions, and take concrete steps to abandon its ballistic missile, other WMD, and nuclear programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner,” said the Irish envoy.

“These launches clearly demonstrate the need for the full and effective implementation of UN sanctions, as well as the urgent need to address sanctions evasion by the DPRK,” she added.

The US ambassador to the council, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said that “each new advancement of the DPRK’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs destabilises the region and threatens international peace and security.”

“The United States calls on the DPRK to refrain from further provocations,” which she said were “unlawful activities… in violation of multiple Security Council resolutions.”

“We also call on all member states to fulfill their sanctions obligations,” she added. “We already have a sanctions regime in place, we just need to be more serious about the implementation of that regime. We need to focus on those who are violating sanctions.”

The Trump administration had denounced China by name, accusing it of not fully applying international sanctions, a charge that Beijing denied.


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