By Prudence Arobani
New York – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday warned against miscalculation in the ongoing efforts to deal with the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) nuclear threats.
Guterres told the Security Council session on DPRK (North Korea), chaired by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, that a miscalculation could destabilize the northeast Asia region.
“I am alarmed by the risk of a military escalation in the region, including by miscalculation or misunderstanding.
“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.
“This is further impeding the ability of the international community to maintain unity and achieve a peaceful solution.
“The onus is on the DPRK to comply with its international obligations. At the same time, the international community must also step up its efforts to manage and reduce tensions.
“The absence of communication channels with the DPRK is dangerous. Armed conflict in Northeast Asia, which is home to one fifth of the world’s people and gross domestic product, would have global ramifications.
“We need to avoid miscalculation and misunderstanding. We need to act now to prevent conflict and achieve sustainable peace,” Guterres said.
The UN chief, however, warned North Korea to refrain from further testing, by complying with the relevant Security Council resolutions, and exploring the resumption of dialogue.
“This means reopening and strengthening communication channels, particularly military to military, to lower the risk of miscalculation or misunderstanding.
“Preventing armed conflict in north-east Asia is the international community’s collective priority while the onus is also on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to refrain from further nuclear testing and explore the path of dialogue,” he said.
Guterres said since January 2016, the DPRK conducted two nuclear tests, more than 30 launches using ballistic missile technology, and various other activities relating to the nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
“The DPRK is the only country to have conducted nuclear tests this century. We must assume that, with each test or launch, the DPRK continues to make technological advances in its pursuit of a military nuclear capability,” he said.
He cited DPRK leader Kim Jong-Un’s description of his country as a “responsible nuclear-weapon State” and a recent statement by a delegate that “going nuclear armed is the policy of our State”.
Guterres said 13 UN agencies and international non-governmental organizations operating in the DPRK are calling for 114 million dollars to meet the urgent needs of 13 million especially vulnerable people.
He called on DPRK to engage with UN human rights mechanisms and with the international community to address the grave human rights situation and improve the living conditions of its people.
The briefing on North Korea marked the end of the U.S. Presidency of the 15-Member Security Council for the month of April, chaired by its UN Ambassador, Nikky Halley.