At approximately 1500 EST, the United Nations Security Council conducted its first briefing since the April 13th, solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) by North Korea. This was the first special session with the Russian Federation at the helm since 2022, when its representatives held the presidency position. The presidency has rotated every month since its establishment in 1946, and the president serves to coordinate actions of the council, decide policy disputes, and sometimes functions as a diplomat or intermediary between conflicting groups.
However, the hours long briefing ended with little progress as both China and Russia deflected attention from the missile test and blamed the United States and South Korea for provoking the Hermit Kingdom. Here is a list of representative comments that defined the meeting:
- U.N. Assistant Secretary General said North Korea’s most recent test “threatens most points on Earth.”
- U.N. Political and Peace-building Affairs Department pleaded that “diplomacy not isolation” was the way forward.
- U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Thomas-Greenfield condemned the launch and all tests “without warning” and the attempts by “two council members” to try and draw legal comparisons of South Korea and the U.S. drills to the North’s launches. She continued that North Korea engages in explicit revenue generating endeavors and uses that money for missile adventures as opposed to feedings its citizens. She blasted the Kim regime as paranoid and unresponsive and urged the North to curb its actions to prevent further sanctions.
- The UK ambassador to the U.N. warned that as long as North Korea can expand its inventory and capabilities, that nation presents an “intensified threat.”
- The Japanese Mission to the UN expressed their exasperation in being forced to “keep having these meetings” so long as North Korea continues to violated Security Council orders. These comments come after the April 13th launch caused a shelter-in-place order in Japan as the North Korean missile appeared to be on track to land near Hokkaido. The Japanese mission then claimed that the Security Council must fulfill its obligation and take action.
- Maltese Ambassador Frazier to the U.N. echoed these sentiments when she said the Security Council was “standing frozen” in the face of this threat.
- The French Ambassador to the U.N. doubled down by saying that the Security Council should not tolerate further inaction and must ensure its “decisions are respected”.
- The Ghanaian Ambassador to the U.N. agreed that the 1718 Panel of Experts findings on North Korea’s capacity to build solid-fuel ICBMs served as an adequate warning, one that was not respected. He also expressed hope that diplomacy could alleviate the suffering of the North Korean people. The UN Security Council Sanctions Committee on North Korea (formally named Security Council Committee Established Pursuant to Resolution 1718) is a subsidiary body established in 2006 by the UN Security Council’s resolution 1718 in response to North Korea’s first nuclear test and its other nuclear proliferation efforts.
- Chinese Ambassador Zhang to the U.N. then shifted topics and blamed the United States of abandoning dialogue with Pyongyang and resorting to “heavy-handed security policies”. He urged a “step-by-step” approach to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and urged the council to take an even-handed approach. He then criticized the United States for giving nuclear material to Australia and that those actions violated the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as much as North Korea developing nuclear capable ICBMs. The United States has agreed to help Australia develop nuclear submarines with the United Kingdom.
- The Swiss Mission to the U.N. then condemned the North Korean “nuclear taboo” that relied on the “misery” of the starving North Korean population.
- The Brazilian representative to the Council added that “doing something” does not mean “doing the same thing” and that further sanctions cannot be the answer.
- Both the representatives from Gabon and Mozambique rejected North Korea’s “missile diplomacy” and urged them to “refrain from further escalation.”
- Several other nations including Ecuador, UAE, Albania, and Malta then published condemnations of the test.
- Within a 15-minute period, the ambassadors from the United States, the Russian Federation, and China, in that order, took turns rebutting each others statements in a tense exchange. China once again accused the U.S. of violating NPT through the AUKUS deal and the Russian Federation ambassador decried having meetings over Norther Korea that “churned out nothing”.
- The Russian Federation adjourned the meeting with no resolution or agreement to officially condemn the test. The Russian representative said that not enough dialogue had been made to propose new ideas to end the “dangerous impasse.”
While Switzerland is set to take the helm of the Security Council Presidency next month, it is clear that China and the Russian Federation are unwilling to propose serious action against North Korea, especially while the war in Ukraine continues to polarize the global stage. If North Korea carries out another nuclear test, as many analysts fear could happen this year, that calculus may change.