Remarks At a Security Council Stakeout Following Adoption of Resolution 2087 on North Korea

Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
January 22, 2013


Good afternoon, everyone. Today, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2087 in response to North Korea's launch last month of a multi-stage rocket using ballistic missile technology.

The resolution adopted today condemns the launch and imposes important new sanctions on North Korea, on its companies and government agencies, including North Korea's space agency, which was responsible for the launch, a bank, and North Korean individuals. It also updates current lists of nuclear and ballistic missile technology banned for transfer to and from the DPRK, helping ensure that North Korea is unable to procure or proliferate the most sensitive technology. It includes several new provisions targeting North Korea's illicit procurement efforts, in particular its smuggling of sensitive items that could contribute to prohibited programs, and it has new financial provisions that help to increase vigilance and monitoring over North Korean financial activities.

This resolution demonstrates to North Korea that there are unanimous and significant consequences for its flagrant violation of its obligations under previous resolutions. More importantly, the provisions of this resolution—both new sanctions and the tightening and expanding of existing measures—concretely help to impede the growth of North Korea’s WMD program and reduce the threat of proliferation by targeting entities and individuals directly involved in these programs.

Today’s resolution also makes clear that if North Korea chooses again to defy the international community, such as by conducting another launch or a nuclear test, then the Council will take significant action.

We believe that today’s resolution is a firm, united, and appropriate response to North Korea's reckless act and that strict enforcement of sanctions is essential to address the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. We remain committed, nonetheless, to resolving our concerns about these programs through authentic and credible negotiations to the greatest extent possible.

As the President noted in his speech last November in Rangoon, the United States is willing to extend its hand should the leadership in Pyongyang opt for the path of peace and progress by choosing to let go of its nuclear weapons, but today’s resolution makes clear that there will be an increasingly steep price to pay if North Korea again chooses confrontation with this Council and the international community.

I’m happy to take a couple questions.

Reporter: Madam Ambassador, can I ask you why it took so long, this unprecedented month-long negotiation? And what is your interpretation of the significant action in the last (inaudible)?

Ambassador Rice: Well, first of all, we have been working patiently and painstakingly with partners on the Security Council. We have had particularly good bilateral cooperation with China in this regard, as well as other members of the P5, of course, the Republic of Korea, Japan and all members of the Security Council. This is a complicated issue. It has technical aspects to it, important political aspects. There have been discussions between and among our capitals, intensive discussions here in New York. And, of course, as we take these steps we do so thoughtfully and in a considered way.

But what is important is that today’s outcome reflects the unity of the Council, the continued credibility of this Council, and indeed it is an unusual step—if not an unprecedented step—for this Council to respond to yet another missile launch with a resolution, which we think is not only important in form, but very significant in its substance.

Finally, with respect to significant action, certainly from the United States’ point of view, we think that this will necessitate additional strong new measures under Article 41, and perhaps other steps as well. But of course that would be a subject for discussion and negotiation among members of the Security Council. But it’s certainly our hope that we will not have to reengage this in the near term, but rather that North Korea will understand that there is an option if they choose the path of peace to rid itself of its nuclear weapons and become a responsible member of the international community through the Six Party Process. We are ready for that. But should they choose more confrontation and more isolation, the international community remains united ready to deliver that.

Reporter: Since the last launch of the rocket, has there been any sign of, for North Korea to come and to choose for a dialogue, at all?

Ambassador Rice: Well, I think there may be others who read tea leaves more carefully than I do on this, but I think, frankly, we must judge North Korea by its actions rather than words. And in this instance, the actions have not been encouraging. They have been, they continue to be provocative. But we hope that that might yet still change.

One last question.

Reporter: China had said it would only agree to a resolution that was, in its view, proportionate to this launch. Do you think that this response—they’re claiming that it doesn’t really—it’s putting new names under existing sanctions but it’s not really new sanctions. Is it a proportionate response? And I wanted to ask you on Sudan. Daffallah—Ambassador Daffallah—just spoke and he said that the Dinka minority, are a minority in Abyei and shouldn’t be given the twelve seats South Sudan wants. What’s the U.S. position on this, this agreement between the parties?

Ambassador Rice: Well I, let me not comment on Sudan at the moment because I did not have an opportunity to hear the Ambassador’s comments. But coming back to the resolution that we just adopted—Resolution 2087—clearly there are new sanctions in this resolution. By definition, any time additional entities or individuals or items are banned from action that they would otherwise not be banned from, that’s a new sanction, by definition. So, we don’t need to have a semantic debate and discussion here.

But this is also a resolution that built upon 1874 and 1718 and was a substantial tightening of the existing regime, which as you know is already a very robust sanctions regime. And we think the tightening of it and strict implementation of it, in and of itself, are very valuable steps. We worked quite closely and cooperatively, as I said, not only with China but other partners in the P5, and the Republic of Korea and Japan and other interested members of the Security Council to arrive at this outcome. We think it is a strong and credible outcome worthy of the collective effort we all invested in it.

Thank you very much.


PRN: 2012/005