North Korea has repeatedly fired short-range missiles, but the UN Security Council has not even issued a warning. This is a serious situation that could undermine the authority of this UN body.
Japan, the U.S., and South Korea say that most of the seven missiles the North has launched since July 25 are short-range ballistic missiles. A UNSC resolution bans North Korea from conducting any type of launches using ballistic missile technology. The UNSC should have denounced the North for its violation of the resolution from the start.
The UNSC has met twice over the series of missile launches. But it has only issued a joint statement backed by the U.K., France, and Germany condemning the North, and it stopped short of taking action as the UNSC. The UNSC can be considered negligent here.
The UNSC resolution is aimed at encouraging North Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. For this reason, the UNSC requires UN member nations to impose an embargo on North Korea.
Japan and the U.S. have repeatedly called on UN member nations to rigorously carry out the resolution in order to pressure North Korea. But such a call is not convincing if violations in the critical area of missile and nuclear development are overlooked.
This issue relates to the very meaning of the UNSC’s existence. The UNSC is responsible for international peace and security and is to consistently take a resolute stance on violations of its resolutions.
The most powerful factor driving the UNSC to keep silent this time is the U.S. administration of President Donald Trump. The U.S. has consistently downplayed the North’s launches of short-range missiles.
In the past, the U.S. used to lead UNSC talks on North Korea issues, and U.S.-proposed sanction resolutions were adopted many times overcoming opposition from China and Russia, which back the North.
But now Washington is behaving as if it defends Pyongyang. There is no way that China and Russia will make a move if the U.S. doesn’t. President Trump says “we have never had an agreement on short-range missiles” with North Korea. But it is not acceptable that he allows the North’s violations of the UNSC resolution provided Pyongyang keeps its promise with him.
North Korea’s short-range ballistic missiles can reach parts of Japan. They are a serious threat to peace in East Asia. The series of missile launches should be seen as North Korea’s effort to improve its technology.
The provocation would not have escalated this far if the UNSC and the U.S. had taken action at the early stage of the missile launches. The time has come for the international community, including Japan and other countries involved, to reconsider how to deal with the North’s missile launches.