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North Korea

Volume 711: debated on Monday 1 June 2009


My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (David Miliband) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister and I made clear publicly on 25 May, we strongly condemn the nuclear test carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). This action was wrong, misguided, dangerous and a clear breach of UN Security Council Resolution 1718 (2006). It will undermine prospects for peace on the Korean peninsula and do nothing for North Korea’s security. Carrying out this test in the face of united efforts by members of the international community to bring peace and security to the Korean peninsula, North Korea will find itself even more isolated and scorned by the international community. My honourable friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Bill Rammell) expressed our strong condemnation of the nuclear test to the DPRK ambassador to London on 25 May, and will meet him again today to underline our concerns.

North Korea’s action in conducting this nuclear test represents a clear challenge to the security of neighbouring countries and to international security. It also gives rise to further concerns about proliferation. DPRK’s actions since 25 May in testing short-range missiles and threatening to end the armistice agreement of 1953 are provocative and aggressive.

In conducting this nuclear test, the DPRK authorities have chosen to ignore not only the Security Council’s demands but also the repeated warnings from many Governments, including the UK Government, to desist from provocative actions. The six-party talks process offers a forum for discussion of legitimate issues between the countries involved. But North Korea has walked away from these talks. They remain the right vehicle for the long-term goal of ensuring stability on the Korean peninsula. In the mean time we support active steps to contain the danger.

The UN Security Council has already issued a very clear statement of condemnation and opposition to the nuclear test. The UK is now working with Security Council partners to develop a tough new resolution imposing sanctions, which will increase the pressure on DPRK following previous resolutions.

If North Korea is to take its rightful place within the international community, it needs to respect international norms, abide by its international obligations as set out in successive UN Security Council resolutions and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, end its aggressive policies towards its region and the rest of the world, and engage constructively with international partners, including through the six-party talks process. The Government and people of North Korea have much to gain from such re-engagement with the international community.

The nuclear test also highlights the critical importance of revitalising the Non-Proliferation Treaty and securing entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The international community needs to demonstrate that it does not tolerate proliferation of this sort.