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Remarks by Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield at a UN Security Council Briefing on the DPRK’s Recent ICBM Launch
March 20, 2023

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York


Thank you so much Mr. President. And thank you, Assistant-Secretary Jenca for your informative briefing and your recommendations to this Council. I welcome the participation of the Republic of Korea with us today.

The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the DPRK’s March 15th ICBM and March 18th SRBM launches.

One month ago to the day, we met here to discuss a DPRK launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile. We called for Council unity in the face of the DPRK’s growing threat to international peace and security.

One month later, the DPRK launched another ICBM and followed only days later with another ballistic missile launch, again in violation of multiple Security Council resolutions.

These launches are not only threatening, destabilizing, and unlawful, they allow the DPRK to advance the development of more sophisticated and dangerous weapons.

The DPRK’s irresponsible, unannounced launches also pose unacceptable risk to international aviation and maritime traffic.

I know two members of this Council believe we should stay silent. But Council silence is not working. Hoping the DPRK regime will stop of its own accord is not working. Month after month these two members are demanding we do the same thing and expecting different results.

Our silence in the face of the DPRK’s escalations weakens the Council’s credibility, jeopardizes the global nonproliferation regime, and emboldens the DPRK’s appetite to flaunt this body’s collective mandate.

Not only is the DPRK watching, but the world is watching. How can we remain silent?

A Council resolution is the appropriate reciprocal response for the launch of just one ICBM. That’s not just my opinion. That used to be the consensus on this Council. The Council unanimously adopted resolutions in response to the DPRK’s first three ICBM launches.

These resolutions not only sent a clear diplomatic message to the DPRK and all potential proliferators, but undertook concrete actions that successfully raised costs for the DPRK to advance its unlawful WMD and ballistic missile program.

Now, with the Council’s alternate posture, we have seen ten ICBM launches since the beginning of 2022.

In response to this crisis, the United States has repeatedly proposed Council products. We have made clear our earnest intentions to negotiate in good faith. And the vast majority of the Council has joined us in engagement and our commitment to diplomacy.

But three Member States refuse to engage in good-faith diplomacy over this threat: The DPRK, who has continued to ignore our multiple offers for dialogue, and China and Russia, whose obstructionism of the Council is encouraging the DPRK to launch ballistic missiles with impunity.

China and Russia will tell you they are not defending the DPRK.

But their actions speak louder than words.

They will tell you that Council meetings and lawful, defensive exercises are “provocative.”

I will remind them that Council products are unifying statements and part of the Council’s responsibility. They are not provocative actions. In fact, they de-escalated missile launches in the past.

And the DPRK’s unprecedented launching campaign started well before the United States and our allies restarted our longstanding defensive exercises.

So here’s my question: How many times must the DPRK violate its UN Security Council resolution obligations before China and Russia stop shielding the DPRK regime?

How often must the DPRK choose ammunitions over nutrition?

How many starving people in the DPRK does it take?

What happens if a missile test fails midflight and rains debris below?

What happens if there’s a nuclear test on China’s doorstep?

Please think about those questions.

From my perspective, enough is enough.

The United States implores Council members to return to the level of cooperation that used to exist on the DPRK threat.

This Council must send three messages to the DPRK and all proliferators: First, that the Security Council and the international community condemns these actions as a clear threat to international peace and security; Second, that we reaffirm and must fully implement the resolutions we unanimously adopted; And third, it is time for the DPRK to abandon its unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner and instead engage in dialogue.

The United States has proposed a PRST, the latest of Council products that we have penned, to do just that.

I encourage everyone in this Chamber to join us in these messages toward peace.

Thank you, Mr. President.