Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the May 31 Satellite Launch by the DPRK

Ambassador Robert Wood
Alternate U.S. Representative for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
June 2, 2023


Thank you, Madam President, and thank you, UnderSecretaryGeneral DiCarlo, for your briefing.

It is with considerable frustration that we find ourselves back in the Council to discuss yet another DPRK provocation. The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the DPRK’s May 31 reconnaissance satellite launch. This launch may have failed, but it was launched in brazen violation of multiple Security Council resolutions, raised tensions, and risked destabilizing the already sensitive security situation in the region and beyond.

This Council cannot ignore the DPRK’s failed launches, as they allow the DPRK to learn about its capability gaps and determine how to advance its unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs accordingly. Its intent  borne out by action and statements  is clear:  to pose a threat to international peace and security. The launch not only disrupted maritime and air traffic in the region, but it also caused alarm for its neighbors in Japan and the Republic of Korea.

Colleagues, this Council has the mandate to act in response to this repeated and aggressive pattern of DPRK violations of multiple Security Council resolutions. And we have before  specifically in response to DPRK’s satellite launches. In both resolutions 2087 and 2270, the Council condemned the DPRK’s tests of space launch vehicles because they use ballistic missile technology and thus violate the resolutions. The Council reaffirmed the freedom of all States to explore and use outer space in accordance with international law. 

The launch we saw this week, however, is undeniably in violation of international law. The DPRK is now threatening to conduct another launch “as soon as possible.”

The DPRK, with the support of its two staunch defenders on the Council, are trying to normalize these unlawful launches and assert they are justified. There is nothing that provoked the DPRK to conduct this week’s launch, nor to threaten another one, except for the DPRK’s desire to perfect its technology that failed this week. We must not allow the unprecedented volume of the regime’s ballistic missile launches over the past year and a half to wear us down. 

The United States remains committed to diplomacy and we continue to urge the DPRK to come to the table for meaningful negotiations without preconditions. But as long as Pyongyang feels emboldened by the silence of this Council to disobey Security Council resolution obligations and seeks to undermine the global nonproliferation regime, it will continue to choose ammunition over nutrition.

Meanwhile, as Russia and China reaffirm their commitment to a diplomatic solution, they argue that a Council product or even holding a Council meeting are provocative actions. May I remind them that what we do here in the Security Council, at least when their obstructionism does not prevail, is diplomacy.

China and Russia will likely once again attempt to draw false equivalences between the DPRK’s unlawful ballistic missile launches and lawful, defensive, and preannounced U.S.ROK joint military exercises. These false equivalences simply don’t hold up under international scrutiny.

Our lawful efforts to defend against the DPRK’s repeated escalatory actions do not in any way justify the DPRK’s unlawful behavior. The DPRK is simply using this as an excuse to allow the DPRK to advance its unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs.

In the face of the growing DPRK WMD and ballistic missile threat and the Council’s silence, it is unbelievable that the two members of this Council expect the United States and our allies to stand idly by. Our commitments to our Alliances are ironclad and we will take all necessary measures to ensure our security.

We call on all Council members to uphold the credibility of the Council, join us in condemning this unlawful behavior, and urge the DPRK to not followthrough on its stated plan to conduct another launch that will further pose a threat to international peace and security

Thank you, Madam President.