South backs U.S.-led condemnation in UN of North's missile launch
The 11 countries, led by the United States, released a joint statement that called on UN Security Council members "to speak with one voice in condemning these dangerous and unlawful acts" after Pyongyang's ballistic missile launch on Sunday.
The statement was read by Jeff DeLaurentis, senior adviser for political affairs at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, in a press conference at the UN headquarters in New York. DeLaurentis was joined by Cho Hyun, South Korean ambassador to the UN, standing to his immediate left during the conference, and other signatories.
The joint press conference followed a closed-door meeting of the 15-member Security Council to discuss North Korea after it fired a ballistic missile into the East Sea Sunday morning.
The missile flew some 300 kilometers (186 miles) with an altitude reaching 620 kilometers, according to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff. North Korea claimed Monday its latest launch was for the development of a reconnaissance satellite system. Some analysts see this move as Pyongyang's foreshadowing a withdrawal of its moratorium on intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and nuclear testing since late 2017, as it has been threatening.
"This is the 10th ballistic missile launch so far this year, each one a violation of multiple Security Council resolutions," said DeLaurentis. "These Security Council resolutions also obligate the DPRK to abandon its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner," also referred to as CVID.
DPRK is the acronym for the North's full name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
This is the fourth U.S.-led statement condemning North Korea this year. Previous statements were issued on Jan. 10, Jan. 20 and Feb. 4.
However, this is the first time South Korea has been listed as a participating country. It has also been years since Seoul had stood side by side with Washington in such a manner to condemn Pyongyang at the United Nations.
The joint statement noted that the "international sanctions regime is an important tool for addressing this threat to international peace and security," without elaborating if further actions will be taken against the North.
It added that countries remain "committed to seeking serious and sustained diplomacy and urge Pyongyang to respond positively to outreach from the United States and others" while also urging the North to "choose the path of diplomacy to ease regional tensions."
It continued, "We stand ready to engage in dialogue, and we will not waver in our pursuit of peace and stability."
The statement was also backed by Albania, Australia, Brazil, Britain, France, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand and Norway.
The United States, France and Britain are three of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea are currently not members of the Security Council, but are key allies to the United States in the Indo-Pacific region.
DeLaurentis specifically pointed out that Australia, New Zealand and South Korea were the latest to join in the "chorus of voices condemning the DPRK's action" through the statement.
Seoul has declined joining such actions condemning Pyongyang following Pyongyang's series of hypersonic missile launches at the beginning of the year and Hwasong-12, an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), on Jan. 30. At that time, Japan backed the United States in its condemnation of the North.
Choi Young-sam, spokesman of South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a Jan. 11 briefing that Seoul was "taking into consideration various factors such as the need to maintain momentum to resume dialogue and for the stable management of the situation on the Korean Peninsula."
The latest U.S.-led joint statement at the UN criticizes North Korea at a higher level than wording used by the Moon Jae-in administration.
The Blue House National Security Council (NSC) expressed "deep regret" following North Korea's missile launch on Sunday, but the UN joint statement used much stronger language, condemning such "unlawful and destabilizing actions in the strongest terms." The South Korean government has also generally avoided the CVID terminology in recent years amid diplomatic outreach to Pyongyang.
An official of Seoul's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that South Korea took part in the joint statement having "comprehensively taken into consideration the repeated missile launches by North Korea and the resulting seriousness" of the situation.
BY SARAH KIM [email@example.com]