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Ambassador Rice on U.N. Statement on North Korea Launch
April 17, 2012

Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, at the Security Council Stakeout

April 16, 2012

– As delivered –

Ambassador Rice: Good morning, everyone. Today the UN Security Council adopted a Presidential Statement that “strongly condemns” North Korea’s recent attempt to launch a satellite using ballistic missile technology. The swift and unanimous adoption of this strong presidential statement shows that the international community is united in sending a clear message to North Korea that such provocations are serious and totally unacceptable.

Critically, the Security Council made clear that there will be consequences for any future North Korean launch or nuclear test.  If North Korea chooses again to defy the international community, then the Council has expressed its determination to take action accordingly. In this PRST, the Security Council underscored that any such launch — no matter whether it is called a satellite or a space launch vehicle — is a “serious violation” of Security Council resolutions 1718 and 1874.  The Council also deplored that this launch has caused grave security concerns in the region.

The Security Council demanded that North Korea not proceed with any further launches using ballistic missile technology and that North Korea comply with its obligations under previous Security Council resolutions by suspending all activities related to its ballistic missile program and reestablish a moratorium on missile launches. The Security Council also demanded that North Korea comply immediately with its obligations under previous Security Council resolutions, including that it abandon its nuclear programs, cease all related activities, and not conduct any further launch, any nuclear test, or any further provocation.

To ensure that there is a consequence for North Korea’s launch, this PRST also provides for new sanctions. The Security Council directed its North Korea Sanctions Committee to designate additional North Korean entities, including companies, to be subject to an asset freeze, as well as to identify additional proliferation-sensitive technology to be banned for transfer to and from North Korea. The Committee will also take several other actions to improve enforcement of existing sanctions.

The United States, for our part, will soon propose to the Committee a robust package of new designations, including the names of companies responsible for North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and a list of technical items that North Korea needs to proceed with its illicit programs.

This presidential statement is stronger and more explicit than the one the Security Council adopted in 2009 in reaction to North Korea’s last launch. It was also adopted with unprecedented speed.

I’m happy to take a few questions.

Reporter: Madame Ambassador, (inaudible) if you could enlighten us — what is your view on why this presidential statement is much, much stronger than the one in 2009?

Ambassador Rice: Well, this was negotiated in earnest, in good faith, among those members of the Council most concerned directly with the nuclear program. As we were aware that this was coming, we had the opportunity to begin discussions promptly. We have pursued them intensively, including over the weekend.  And I’m quite gratified that the Council was unanimous in its view that this is a very serious violation, it deserves the strong condemnation of the Security Council, it merits the imposition of new measures — including the designation of new companies — and that the Council takes very seriously the potential for there to be further provocations and that they too will not be tolerated, indeed will be met with determination that this Council will take further action.

Reporter: So you’ve taken a very unprecedented process to show these consultations by taking a bilateral meeting with China. Why did you take this process?

Ambassador Rice: Well, first of all, I’m not going to characterize the nature of our bilateral work with China or any other member of the Security Council, but I wouldn’t assume that anything is necessarily unprecedented. This was a process that we have pursued successfully together in this instance as a Council, as we have done so in the past.

Reporter: The Council acts very cautiously normally, but they explicitly warned about a possible test.  Is there any information on what is being prepared by North Korea?

Ambassador Rice: Well, I’m not going to comment on intelligence matters, but there is the fact of history — that in 2006 a launch was followed by a nuclear test. The same was true in 2009. And so, clearly, the potential for that pattern to persist is one that all members of the international community are mindful of and think would be a disastrous course for the North to pursue. It will only lead to the North’s increased isolation.

Reporter: Madame Ambassador, can you tell us why the Council decided on a PRST and not a resolution this time?

Ambassador Rice: A PRST is, of course, also the format that we followed in 2009. As I mentioned, this text is stronger than the one that the Council adopted in 2009, both in language and in substance. But we thought this was the appropriate vehicle, given the circumstances, and it has been something that the Council has been able to come together around swiftly and forcefully.

Reporter: Do you expect (inaudible) the United States submitted to be approved by all members or have you heard some objections to it already?

Ambassador Rice: We haven’t submitted it yet, so there aren’t any objections or agreements to it. This is a process, as always, that is a complicated one in the committee. The committee needs to operate by consensus. It’s also a process of negotiation, as in 2009 it was, which yielded a very credible outcome. And we expect the same this time.

Reporter: Sure. I wanted to ask you. There are reports of Sudan bombing a UN peacekeeper base in Mayom in South Sudan. Also I think you got a letter over the weekend saying that the house of Riek Machar in Khartoum had been somehow raided by the Sudanese authorities and people arrested. What’s the status? I know the Council did put out that PRST, but it seems like things are kind of escalating. What’s the U.S.’s view on it? And what’s the Council intend to do about the situation between the two Sudans?

Ambassador Rice: Well, obviously the Council has been very clear. It’s gravely concerned about the escalating violence between Sudan and South Sudan. It has roundly condemned aerial bombardments by the Sudanese Armed Forces. The fact of today’s bombardment, which was deep into South Sudan and hit a UN — UNMISS — facility, is particularly condemnable and deplorable. We understand that there may be, from press reports, a number of casualties in the area surrounding the base, although it seems first reports indicate no — thankfully — casualties from the UNMISS facility itself. This is obviously a subject of grave concern, as is the South’s continued presence in Heglig and a myriad of violent confrontations in and around the border area and deep into both countries’ territory. The Council will continue on this subject this week. We expect the opportunity for further discussion, perhaps as soon as tomorrow. We have invited the AU High-Level Panel leader, former President Thabo Mbeki, to brief the Council via video. We also look forward to the return of Special Envoy Haile Menkarios, as part of the process that will inform future Council action.

Reporter: Ambassador, you mentioned designation (inaudible) U.S. will propose.  Is there a deadline when you will propose it? When should we expect those new designations?

Ambassador Rice: Well, there is a 15-day timeframe for the Council Committee — the 1718 Committee — to update and enhance the list of entities and items that are subject to an asset freeze, so it will be in this window, both that we will make the proposals and that the action is expected to occur.

Reporter: And one last thing — if there was a nuclear test, would the U.S. or any of the other countries be seeking a stronger response in the form of a resolution at that time?

Ambassador Rice: I’m not going to speculate about a hypothetical and the form thereof, but the statement that we adopted today was very clear, that were there to be further launches or a future nuclear test, the Council is determined to take action accordingly.

Reporter: Ambassador, I heard DPRK has refused IAEA inspection. Is it true?

Ambassador Rice: I can’t speak for North Korea.

Reporter: On Syria. When do you expect to have a second resolution in place to authorize the full observer mission?

Ambassador Rice: Well first of all, we’re pleased that the initial tranche of monitors was able to get in over the weekend. We’re gravely concerned — and I’ll speak now for the United States — that the violence continues, that the government seems to continue — if not in recent days intensify — bombardment in Homs in particular, and that there are sporadic violence in other parts of the country. This is absolutely unacceptable. It runs contrary to the commitments that the government of Syria has made, both to Joint Special Envoy Annan and to the wider international community. And should the violence persist and the cease-fire — or cessation of violence, more aptly — not hold, that as we said as a Council and as we said on a national basis on Saturday, will call into question the wisdom and viability of sending in the full monitoring presence.

One last one.

Reporter: On Sudan. Is there any remote chance that the Council might ever consider a no-fly zone and an arms embargo over North-South, the entire territory?

Ambassador Rice: I don’t want to begin to guess what Council members might propose in this circumstance. I do think what is clear is that the entire Council, indeed the entire international community, takes very seriously what is happening — the outbreak of conflict potentially leading to full-scale conflict between Sudan and South Sudan. It is clearly a threat to regional as well as international peace and security, and the Council will be discussing what are appropriate steps to take to try to diffuse the conflict, prevent its spread, and bring the parties — crucially — back to the negotiating table at the summit level.

Thank you.