Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, At a Security Council Stakeout Following Consultations on North Korea

Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
December 12, 2012


Good afternoon everyone. The Security Council, as you know, just met to discuss last night’s launch of a multi-stage rocket using ballistic missile technology. The international community and our colleagues in the Council have condemned this launch clearly and swiftly as a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions 1718 and 1874.

This launch comes only eight months after this Council unanimously adopted a presidential statement making clear that any launch using ballistic missile technology – no matter how North Korea chooses to characterize it – is, in fact, a serious violation of two Security Council resolutions—as I said, 1718 and 1874.

This launch also shows that despite the Security Council’s clear requirements, North Korea is determined to pursue its ballistic missile program without regard for its international obligations. Therefore, members of the Council must now work in a concerted fashion to send North Korea a clear message that its violations of UN Security Council resolutions have consequences.  

In the days ahead, the United States will work with partners on the Security Council, as well as our partners in the Six-Party Talks and other countries in the international community, to pursue appropriate action.

I’m happy to take a couple questions.

Reporter: My question is, what is coming after this swift action of the Security Council? So, the issue of new sanctions has been raised, obviously. But certain members of the Security Council is not likely to agree with a new resolution. So my question is, do you think it is possible to impose a new sanction without adopting a new resolution? Do you think it is appropriate?

Ambassador Rice: Well, let me say this. First of all, I’ve been through a number of similar Council sessions on North Korea and its provocative actions over the course of my tenure here. The statement that was issued today, that was an initial statement out of the Council, is one of the swiftest and strongest, if not the swiftest and strongest, that this Council has issued. In that, it issued a clear condemnation of this action and it did so right away. Now we go into the second phase, as we have in the past, where the negotiations begin among Council members, particularly those with a particular interest in this topic. And we will approach those as we have in the past with a clear set of objectives, but our objective is that this be a clear and meaningful response by the Security Council, consistent with the last presidential statement, which said there would be appropriate further action. And I don’t want to get into a situation where we begin to prejudge what that product might be. I will say, however, that we are very much ready to engage with our colleagues on the Council and we will be searching for a clear and credible response.

Reporter: Any specifics, though, on what you would like to see in such a resolution, Ambassador?

Ambassador Rice: There always are, but as you know I don’t negotiate the text in public. So let us begin the consultations with our partners. And we certainly have some elements and aspects that we think are important. I’m sure others will have theirs, and we will come to an agreement.

Reporter: Ambassador, can you describe the mood inside? Was there a collaborative spirit?

Ambassador Rice: Ultimately, yes. As I think you know, sometimes our conversations in the Council, our exchanges get vigorous. But as I said I think we had a swift and very strong outcome today and that ultimately is a product of a consensual Council action. And we’re pleased with it.

Reporter: Ambassador, you mentioned the Six Party partners before. Do you think by launching this rocket and this satellite into orbit that North Korea has indicated they have no desire to return to the Six Party talks or sign back on to the NPT?

Ambassador Rice: I’m not going to judge North Korea’s motives or intentions or actions going forward. Our view is that for there to be a credible resumption of the Six Party process the North Koreans have to demonstrate clearly and without equivocation their commitment to denuclearization. And clearly today’s actions more than call into question—or, yesterday’s actions—more than call into question that commitment.

Reporter: Sure, Ma’am. I’m sorry I’m going to actually ask you one quick question on Mali. This resignation, or forced resignation, of the Prime Minister that took place earlier this week--does it the U.S.’s thinking at all on how the Council should proceed in terms of authorizing a force to reclaim Northern Mali?

Ambassador Rice: Well, as you, Mali has been and remains a very complex situation and from the United State’s point of view we have multiple parallel interests and objectives, one of which, is the swiftest possible restoration of democratic government in Bamako. And indeed, what has transpired over the last few days is yet another setback in that regard. But we also are very much committed to collective effort, to ensure that there is not an enduring safe haven for terrorists in the north of Mali. And the Security Council resolution that is under discussion is yet another in a progression of potential actions and some obviously prior actions that we are working on to address, in particular, the challenge of restoring sovereignty and territorial integrity and ridding terrorists from the north of Mali. So we’ll continue to work with that interest at heart. Thank you very much.

Reporter: Ambassador, a comment on Syria? Just on the Council’s ability to address this ongoing fighting?

Ambassador Rice: Clearly the situation in Syria is deteriorating. We are heartened to see that there is progress in some respects, particularly in unifying the opposition. And the meeting today of the Friends of Syria in Marrakesh is an important step. The United States has indicated that we view the Syrian Opposition Coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people and we are certainly continuing and intensifying our non-lethal and humanitarian support for the people of Syria, including through this opposition coalition. But the situation on the ground is grave and it is of great continuing concern to the United States that the Security Council, because of the triple—three times—veto by China and Russia, has been unable to take up its responsibilities to address this tragedy, which has major consequences for regional peace and security in the effective and responsible way that we believe it should. So, we will continue our efforts outside of this Council. We will continue our support for the people of Syria. And if there is a window of opportunity for the Council to finally take up its responsibilities, we would be very interested in seeing that occur.

Thank you.


PRN: 2012/287