S Korea calls for UN action amid escalating N Korean provocations

Beijing and Moscow defended Pyongyang’s position in the latest U.N. Security Council meeting, says source.
By Lee Jeong-Ho for RFA
2024.01.18
Seoul, South Korea
S Korea calls for UN action amid escalating N Korean provocations The Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations, Hwang Joon-kook speaks to delegates during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., Oct. 5, 2022.
Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

South Korea has urged the United Nations to take action in response to North Korea’s escalating provocations, as Pyongyang intensifies tension in the Korean peninsula on multiple fronts ranging from verbal threats to military activities.

Speaking to reporters in New York Thursday, South Korea’s envoy to the U.N. Hwang Joon-kook said: “We need to break through the U.N. Security Council’s silence regarding our response. Figuring out the way forward presents a significant challenge.”

The statement came after the UNSC held this year’s first informal consultation on North Korea issues. The meeting also marked South Korea’s first participation in such a consultation since commencing its tenure as a non-permanent member of the council on Jan. 1.

Seoul is committed to utilizing its role in the UNSC to more proactively and regularly tackle the challenges presented by North Korea. It emphasizes its intention to use its status as a non-permanent member to significantly influence international discussions about Pyongyang.

“Given the combination of North Korea’s rhetoric and actions, the situation is increasingly alarming, and all member states are deeply worried,” Hwang added.

A senior government source in Seoul, who asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, told Radio Free Asia on Friday that Beijing and Moscow defended Pyongyang’s position in the latest UNSC meeting. The source did not elaborate further.

The consultation came as North Korea tested an intermediate-range, solid-fueled ballistic missile, or IRBM, Sunday. The North’s IRBM, including its Musudan missiles, can reach Guam, where U.S. strategic assets, including B-52 bombers, are located. The U.N. bans North Korea from launching any ballistic rockets.

U.S. missile expert Vann H. Van Diepen pointed out in 38 North Thursday, that the IRBM North Korea test-launched Sunday appears to be a new type of missile equipped with a Maneuverable Reentry Vehicle (MaRVs) – a system the allies’ current missile defense systems would find difficult to intercept.

The expert saw IRBMs equipped with MaRVs as a strategic response aimed at countering the U.S.’s efforts to enhance its missile defense system. This is particularly relevant in the context of defending against potential threats to Guam, which is located approximately 3,000 kilometers(1,864 miles) from North Korea.

Simultaneously, North Korea has also been ramping up its verbal threats to South Korea, with its leader Kim Jong Un pledging on Monday to amend the country’s constitution to declare Seoul as Pyongyang’s “primary and immutable enemy.” 

Pyongyang has also beefed up its efforts to bolster ties with key regime backers, notably Russia, indicating its intent to solidify its support network amid the growing security cooperation among the U.S., South Korea and Japan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin met North Korea’s Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui in Moscow Tuesday, and vowed to closely collaborate on efforts to jointly deal with both regional and global security matters.

According to North Korea’s state-run Rodong Sinmun Thursday, the two agreed to “drive the dynamic development of overall bilateral relations,” labeling their relationship as “strategic” and “traditionally friendly.” 

Edited by Taejun Kang and Mike Firn.

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