Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing Called by Russia on Threats to International Peace and Security

John Kelley
Political Minister Counselor
New York, New York
October 13, 2023


Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you, High Representative* Ebo for your briefing today. Your continuing efforts to counter weapons diversion are critical.

Nearly one month to the day since Russia last called a meeting on this issue, we are again here at Russia’s request. Make no mistake, addressing security threats from the illicit proliferation of conventional arms is a longstanding U.S. international security priority. We take exception to Russia’s continued, cynical efforts to turn this Council into a pulpit for its ever-growing disinformation campaign. It is the height of hypocrisy for a member of this Council, a permanent member no less, that has invaded another Member State in violation of the UN Charter to raise questions about that very Member State’s inherent right to self-defense as reflected in that same Charter.

The Kremlin undermines this Council with continued irresponsible nuclear rhetoric, procurement of arms from the DPRK in violation of multiple Security Council resolutions on the DPRK, procurement of certain armed drones from Iran in violation of Resolution 2231, and continued threats to global food security through its unilateral suspension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and endangering cargo vessels in the Black Sea. It is farcical Russia would convene us here today to discuss the “implications for the prospects of the resolution of the conflict around Ukraine” when it is Russia that launched the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and when it is Russia that could end the war today by simply withdrawing its troops.

This past Monday, we met in this chamber to discuss Russia’s decimation of the Ukrainian village of Hroza as just one example of its unrelenting attacks that kill innocent people and destroy critical infrastructure. Russia’s invasion of, and sustained attacks against Ukraine for more than 18 months are the real threats to international peace and security. However, Russia would instead have us believe it is our provision of aid to Ukraine, to assist in Ukraine’s legitimate self-defense, that is prolonging the very war Russia began.

Meanwhile, Russia is procuring weapons from the DPRK and drones from Iran in direct violation of this Council’s resolutions to further its offensive war. Those are real threats to international peace and security, to the global non-proliferation regime, and to regional stability this Council should be discussing. Just last week, Beyond Parallel, a project of the think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, published satellite imagery captured on October 5th of approximately 73 railcars at the Tumangang Rail Station in Rason, a DPRK border city with Russia. This figure represents an unprecedented level of freight railcar traffic at this station. The report assessed: “the dramatic increase in rail traffic likely indicates North Korea’s supply of arms and munitions to Russia.”

As a reminder, Security Council resolutions prohibit all Member States from procuring arms or related materiel from the DPRK. Any revenue the DPRK receives from such transfers could be channeled by Pyongyang to further develop its unlawful Weapons of Mass Destruction and ballistic missile programs. We again urge the DPRK to cease its efforts to transfer arms to Russia. We again call on Russia to recommit to the maintenance of peace and security and to its obligation to uphold the UN arms embargo on the DPRK that Russia itself voted to adopt.

However, as we know all too well, Russia continues to violate Resolution 2231 by procuring certain attack drones from Iran for use against Ukraine. The United States has shared extensive documentation and information to every member of this Council. Just yesterday, we co-hosted with the UK a display of recovered Iranian materiel at our Mission here in New York. These unlawfully procured Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles have been used in attacks on critical and civilian infrastructure, including the ports Ukraine uses to export grain to the rest of the world.

The Kremlin’s single-minded pursuit to procure weapons while flagrantly and repeatedly violating Security Council resolutions, of which, again, Russia itself voted in favor of, is the real threat to international peace and security.

The United States will continue to support Ukraine’s self-defense, including through the provision of arms and equipment that enable Ukraine to defend its territory and protect its people from Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war.

We will continue to expose Russia’s illicit efforts to acquire military equipment from Iran, DPRK, or any other state that is prepared to support Russia’s war against Ukraine.

We once again renew our calls for Russia to abide by its Security Council obligations. We once again call on Russia to recommit to its responsibilities as a permanent member of this Council. We once again call on Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine, and to do so immediately.

And I thank you, Mr. President.


* Director and Deputy to the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs