Statement by Estonia at the General Assembly debate on Non-proliferation/DPRK

Statement by the Deputy Permanent Representative of Estonia to the UN, Ms Kristel Lõuk

Mr President,

Estonia aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union.

We welcome today’s historic debate of the General Assembly pursuant to the recently unanimously adopted GA resolution 76/262 that Estonia was honoured to cosponsor.

Estonia deeply regrets that the veto was cast by two permanent members during the Security Council meeting on 26 May 2022 under the agenda item on “Non-proliferation/Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”.

The United Nations Charter has given the Security Council an unprecedented responsibility and power to maintain international peace and security. This responsibility and power entails an authority to act on behalf of the whole membership of the United Nations, taking into account the interests of the UN as a whole. It also entails ensuring prompt and effective action in response to serious violations of international law.

Estonia considers that the Russian and Chinese vetoes were not cast in a responsible manner, allowing a very serious situation in the Korean peninsula to escalate even further. We have taken note of the explanations of the two permanent members, but find them unconvincing for the following reasons:

The DPRK has this year alone launched already 18 rounds of ballistic missile tests, including six intercontinental ballistic missile launches. The regime has demonstrated its commitment in developing its nuclear programme, in rhetoric as well as in action. We fully condemn these activities that are in clear violation of the Security Council unanimously adopted resolutions and pose a serious threat to North Korea’s neighbours, to the region and to international peace and security. It is the duty of the Security Council to address such threats in a robust and decisive manner and send a message of condemnation on behalf of the UN community. Further, when the Security Council fails to uphold its own resolutions, it risks undermining the rule of law and weakening the international non-proliferation and disarmament regime.

The draft resolution put forward by the United States was a necessary, appropriate and measured response to the threat and violations at hand. The text contained important elements to further contain the DPRK’s nuclear related activities, including measures to counter the DPRK’s malicious cyber activities that play an increasingly crucial role in financing its weapons programme. The text also would have further facilitated the delivery of humanitarian aid.

In order to justify the veto, it has been argued that additional sanctions would only worsen the plight of the DPRK’s population. This is a clear example of manipulation with facts and truth. Instead of providing its population with food, medicine and basic services, the DPRK spends its resources on its weapons programme. Easing sanctions will not make the lives of ordinary North Koreans better. The dire humanitarian situation the North Koreans have to endure rests squarely in the hands of the DPRK’s ruling regime and its policy.

Finally, we are worried about the message the veto sends to the DPRK as well as to other potential proliferators. In fact, we have already seen a reaction from the DPRK. Nine days after the veto was cast and the Security Council action was blocked, the DPRK test-fired eight ballistic missiles on the 5th of June. Due to the veto, the DPRK received a signal from the two permanent members of the Council that its dangerous provocations can proceed without consequences.

 

Mr President,

The threat posed by the DPRK’s development of weapons of mass destruction affects us all. We, therefore, call on all UN member states to fully and strictly implement the Security Council resolutions. We urge China and Russia to work with the rest of the Security Council in a responsible manner to address the growing threat posed by the DPRK’s nuclear and missile activities. We call on the DPRK to cease its provocations, respond positively and constructively to the offers of dialogue by the United States and take concrete steps towards complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

 

I thank you.