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Ballistic Missiles: North Korea

Volume 605: debated on Thursday 11 February 2016

I would like to update the House on the most recent developments on the Korean peninsula and the action the Government are taking in response.

North Korea announced on 7 February that it had launched a satellite that morning. The launch took place at Dongchang-Ri on North Korea’s west coast. It was carried out by a satellite launch vehicle which used ballistic missile technology. As the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), made clear in his public statement on 7 February, this latest provocation by North Korea is a clear and deliberate violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions 1718, 1874, 2087 and 2094.

This provocation took place almost exactly a month after North Korea announced to the media that it had conducted its first hydrogen bomb test on 6 January. The Foreign Secretary updated the House on this issue on 13 January, Official Report, columns 21-22WS, and our assessment remains that the size of the seismic event caused by the nuclear test, while indicative of a nuclear explosion, was not indicative of the successful test of a thermonuclear weapon—also known as a hydrogen bomb.

We support the position outlined by the UN Security Council, as expressed in their press statement of 7 February, that this launch, as well as any other launch that uses ballistic missile technology, even if characterised as a satellite or space launch, contributes to North Korea’s development of nuclear weapon delivery systems and is a serious violation of Security Council resolutions. We are working with other UN Security Council members to adopt expeditiously a new Security Council resolution in response to these dangerous and serious violations.

I summoned the North Korean ambassador to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 8 February in order to make clear, in the strongest terms, the UK’s firm condemnation of this latest action. Our ambassador in Pyongyang has reiterated our condemnation of the nuclear test.

In addition to the Foreign Secretary speaking to the Japanese Foreign Minister on 8 February, we remain in close touch with the US, France, South Korea, China and other partners on our respective approaches towards North Korea.

We remain deeply concerned by North Korea’s continued development of nuclear weapons and missile technology in defiance of UN resolutions and international condemnation. Amid reports of widespread hardship and human rights violations, the priority must be the health and welfare of North Korean people.

Our message to North Korea is that this behaviour is unacceptable. Due to the regime’s continued flagrant violation of UN Security Council resolutions, it now faces an increasingly robust international response.