UN chief Antonio Guterres has condemned North Korea’s latest nuclear and missile tests and offered to support any effort to denuclearise the Korean peninsula. On Sunday, North Korea said it detonated a hydrogen bomb designed for a long-range missile and called it a “perfect success”, inviting worldwide condemnation and promises of tougher US sanctions. “Yet again, North Korea has broken the global norm against nuclear test explosions,” UN Secretary-General Guterres said yesterday.
Guterres unequivocally condemned the latest nuclear and missile tests. Pyongyang has defied the Security Council resolutions. “North Korea has needlessly and recklessly put millions of people at risk – including its own citizens already suffering drought, hunger and serious violations of their human rights,” he added.
Guterres reiterated his call on North Korean authorities to comply fully with its international obligations, including the various UN Security Council resolutions. He welcomed the most recent meeting of the Security Council, saying: “The unity of the Council is crucial in addressing this crisis. That unity also creates an opportunity to engage diplomatically to decrease tensions, increase confidence and prevent any escalation – all aimed at the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”.
The Secretary-General stressed dialogue and communication as necessary to avoid miscalculation or misunderstanding. “Confrontational rhetoric may lead to unintended consequences,” he added. “The solution must be political. The potential consequences of military action are too horrific”.
“As Secretary-General, I am ready to support any efforts towards a peaceful solution of this alarming situation, and as I said, to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula,” he said. In response to a question on which of the global challenges he thought would be most focussed upon at the forthcoming General Assembly’s High-Level Week, Guterres said, the “most dangerous crisis” the world faces today is the crisis related to the nuclear risk in relation to North Korea.
“We all have the experience of the First World War. Wars usually do not start by a decision taken in a moment by the parties to go to war. If you look at the history of the First World War, it was on a step-by-step basis, one party doing one thing, the other party doing another, and then an escalation taking place…This is the risk we need to avoid in relation to the situation of North Korea,” he said. He added that all members of the Security Council must come together and make it clear to North Korea that they need to negotiate in order for the achievement of the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
“I know that the leverage of the UN is limited. I know that our capacity is limited. I’ve just signalled to the parties that I’m entirely at their disposal, but I recognise that what is crucial here is the unity of the Security Council and the capacity of countries to come together with a single strategy to deal with North Korea,” he added.