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Security Council alarmed over Korean Peninsula crisis

Alarmed by the possibility of a military escalation in Northeast Asia, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday called on members of the Security Council "to avoid miscalculation and misunderstanding (and) act now to prevent conflict."

He made the remarks while addressing a ministerial-level session of the 15-member panel on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). The meeting was chaired by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson of the United States, which was holding the rotating presidency this month.

UN Chief: "Act Now"

Speakers warned the recent heated rhetoric on the issue could lead to conflicts, and called for a halt in nuclear tests by Pyongyang and the implementation of Security Council resolutions.

Guterres said "I am particularly concerned by the possibility that efforts to offset the destabilizing activities of the DPRK could also result in increased arms competition and tensions, further impeding the ability of the international community to maintain unity and achieve a peaceful solution."

He noted that "we need to act now to prevent conflict and achieve sustainable peace."

The UN chief suggested "the DPRK refraining from further testing, complying with the relevant Security Council resolutions and the resumption of dialogue."

A Negotiated Solution?

After Guterres, Tillerson said "The threat of a ... nuclear attack ... is real."

"Indeed, the DPRK has repeatedly claimed it plans to conduct such a strike," he said. "Given that rhetoric, the United States cannot idly stand by. Nor can other members of this council who are within striking distance of ... missiles."

"In light of the growing threat, the time has come for all of us to put new pressure," Tillerson said.

He called for the full implementation of sanctions, suspension or a downgrading of diplomatic relations because Pyongyang "exploits its diplomatic privileges to fund its illicit nuclear and missile technology programs. Tillerson also called for increasing the DPRK's "financial isolation."

"Our goal is not regime change, nor do we desire to threaten the people or destabilize the Asia Pacific region," Tillerson said. "We much prefer a negotiated solution to this problem."

Chinese FM: "Demonstrate Political Wisdom"

For his part, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged "cooling down the temperature on the (Korean) Peninsula," saying Beijing "resolutely opposes the DPRK's research, development and possession of nuclear weapons and firmly implements all DPRK-related Security Council resolutions."

"We urge the DPRK to stop its nuclear and missile development activities, come back to its commitment of denuclearization and honor its denuclearization obligations," he said.

"We also call on other parties concerned to demonstrate the political wisdom, make the political decision and work constructively together toward the denuclearization of the peninsula," he added.

To get there, Wang urged "all parties to remain calm and exercise restraint and avoid provocative rhetoric or action that would lead to miscalculation."

"We ask the DPRK to observe the Security Council resolutions and stop advancing its nuclear and missile development," he said. "We also ask the U.S., the ROK (Republic of Korea) and other parties to refrain from conducting or even expanding military exercises and deployment against the DPRK."

Other Opinions

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov liked the Chinese suggestion – dubbed "suspension for suspension" – and said they merit "serious attention as they could be a starting point for us to get out of the current impasse and renew the negotiating process."

Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se of South Korea, expressing concern that sanctions were not fully implemented, called on the international community to "thoroughly implement these resolutions."

"The Security Council must discuss additional punitive measures," he said. "Pyongyang may still harbor delusions that the Security Council will only take limited action, and then it can disregard and ridicule the authority of the United Nations."

[Source: Xinhua, United Nations, 28Apr17]

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East China Sea Conflict
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