North Korea: main focus of our action is to stand firm [fr]
North Korea - Speech by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 15 December 2017
I thank the Japanese presidency for having convened this important meeting, and I also thank the Secretary-General for his very informative briefing. France is deeply concerned at the worsening situation on the Korean peninsula and by the significant risks therefrom to our collective security. This year the North Korean regime fired 20 ballistic missiles, three of them intercontinental, and carried out a nuclear test on an unprecedented scale. We have met 17 times, 12 on an emergency basis. North Korea today is an existential threat for our partners in the region; I would like to assure them of our full solidarity in the face of this unacceptable situation.
This unprecedented series of illicit and increasingly destabilizing actions has all the hallmarks of a dangerous escalation. The threats are real and proven, have already reached an unacceptable level and increase daily. That is why inaction and weakness are not options. France believes that our action should be guided by three priorities.
The first to be clear-sighted in the face of the extreme seriousness of the situation. The multifaceted progress of North Korea in terms of its nuclear and ballistic capacity and probably in the chemical area as well represents a deep-seated change. The threat has gone from regional to global and from potential to immediate. Let us not be under any illusion: the threat is unprecedented and has no equivalent.
The North Korean regime, however, has to date shown no intention of reversing course. Instead, forging ahead with its illicit nuclear and ballistic programmes, it continues to flout its international obligations and to defy the Council, to the detriment of its own people. I would stress here that the tragic situation of human rights in North Korea is only getting worse, and we heard earlier this week. With regard to the humanitarian situation, it is indeed the North Korean regime that bears the primarily responsibility.
Secondly, given this very dangerous and volatile situation, the main focus of our action must be to stand firm, primarily because the dangerous spiral in which North Korea is engaged threatens the very foundations of our collective security system, which together we have the responsibility to preserve.
It is vital that we react to this testing of the non-proliferation regime and avoid any possibility of impunity, which would necessarily lead to other aspects being called into question. What is at stake here is our ability to not only ensure our own security but also to prevent any disruption of the strategic balance in Asia and, beyond that, the strategic stability that underlies peace and security.
In that framework, our action should take place on two tracks. It is indispensable, first, to implement existing sanctions strictly and comprehensively, in the face of the formidable inventiveness of North Korean networks in circumventing our decisions and escape their effects. Everyone knows that the uneven implementation of sanctions seriously affects the effectiveness of our collective action. Their correct implementation is the responsibility of all Member States, beginning with the ones seated on the Council.
We must also react methodically and with determination to all North Korean provocations in order to prevent further escalation and to preserve the non-proliferation regime. If North Korea continues to defy our injunctions and to ignore our appeals to reason, North Korea will leave us with no other choice than to strengthen the sanctions, on the understanding that sanctions are not a goal in themselves and that target the regime for what it does and not for what it is. The third and final priority must be the potential for diplomacy to find a political solution. We do not close, and have never closed, the door to dialogue. All our efforts, on the contrary, are aimed at convincing Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table and to agree to negotiations on its nuclear and ballistic programme.
But it is clear that given North Korea’s obstinacy, today only maximum pressure can enable us to return to the path of negotiation.
France is, of course, in favour of the resumption of negotiations, but it is up to the North Korean regime to give us clear indications that it is prepared to talk, and the sooner the better.
France is convinced that maximum pressure on the North Korean regime is our best lever to enable dialogue, which itself is the condition for a political solution. Failing that, anything that could be seen by the North Korean regime as a sign of weakness or of disunity among us would encourage it to continue its provocations and objectively aggravate the threat of an extreme scenario.
So, quite simply, the firmness that France is calling on the Council to show is our best antidote in the light of the threat of war and our best chance to chart a course towards dialogue and therefore towards the political solution that we all seek.