UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed to North Korea on Thursday not to conduct another nuclear test and do more for the wellbeing of its people who face a “dire” humanitarian situation.
He told a group of journalists that the UN has been trying to provide humanitarian assistance to North Korea, but because of the crisis over a possible nuclear test and tensions on the Korean peninsula, the response from international donors has been very low.
As a result, Ban said, he needs to tap into the UN emergency relief fund for money to provide humanitarian aid to the North, officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
“I only hope, and again appeal strongly to the DPRK authorities, that they heed the appeals and urgings of the international community and abide by all Security Council resolutions, and do more for the wellbeing of their own people,” he said.
North Korea announced last month that it would conduct a nuclear test to protest UN Security Council sanctions which were toughened after a satellite launch in December last year that the US and others say was a disguised test of banned missile technology. The council ordered North Korea in the sanctions resolution to refrain from a nuclear test or face “significant action.”
Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, again urged key nations that have been trying to rein in the North’s nuclear program to call on Pyongyang to refrain from “any provocative measures, like conducting nuclear tests.”
Since 2003, the US, Russia, China, Japan and South Korea have been trying to negotiate a disarmament deal with North Korea that would halt its nuclear program. However, the North moved ahead, conducting a nuclear test in 2006 which led to UN sanctions.
The North walked away from the talks in 2009 and later that year exploded its second nuclear device, leading to additional sanctions. So far, efforts to restart the six-party talks have failed.
UN sanctions demand that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons program and stop testing or using nuclear or ballistic missile technology. They also ban the North from importing or exporting material for nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Ban said North Korea’s announcement that it is not going to abide by the agreement that established the six-party talks is unacceptable.
North Korea has said many times that it is committed to denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, he said, so it should abide by all UN Security Council resolutions.
“This is a basic obligation of a [UN] member state,” he said.
With a new North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, and new leaders in South Korea and Japan, Ban said there will be many different ways the DPRK can contribute to stability in northeast Asia.
“If they conduct this nuclear test, it may be the case that they are effectively tying the hands of the new president of [South] Korea,” Ban said.
“Then, it may take again a long time before any initiative between South and North Korea could take place to normalize this relationship,” he added.