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13 April 2009 - Security Council - Presidential statement on North Korea - Stakeout by Jean-Maurice Ripert, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

France welcomes the Security Council’s unanimous adoption of a presidential statement, the contents of which we believe are extremely clear. It clearly condemns the launch, and clearly establishes that the launch was in violation of obligations under SCR 1718. It also establishes an extremely swift mechanism for quickly activating, within a certain time period, the Sanctions Committee established by SCR 1718, and for drawing up, as quickly as possible, a list of entities and goods that will be subject to these sanctions. It also demands that North Korea suspend all activities in accordance with SCR 1718.This is a very good result for us. The flexibility displayed by the various delegations, which as you know often have conflicting interests, is very important. We have always considered that a very strong presidential statement, which has the advantage of being unanimously adopted and thus sends a clear message to the North Koreans demonstrating the unity of the international community, was preferable to the potential adoption of a resolution that would either have been voted on or would have been much weaker. This solution has been accepted by both Japan and China and all countries have demonstrated a great deal of flexibility in view of the problems. We therefore consider this to be significant progress in our fight against non-proliferation, particularly in the Far East.

Q : You preferred a presidential statement to a resolution in order to achieve a unanimous agreement from the Council?

A : Again it is not the format of the text that is important but what the Council says. We negotiated for a week, as you know - we started last Sunday and finished Saturday evening. The important thing was to agree on the content of the Security Council’s reaction. The format is relatively unimportant. Contrary to what I hear everywhere, everything decided by the Council is legally binding. When the Council decides on something, the decision is binding. The States can then choose to observe the decision or not, but the format is however less important than the agreement on the basics.

Q : Does it not have more weight if it is a resolution?

A : Absolutely not. When a presidential statement includes the decision to bring the Sanctions Committee together, then it will happen the next morning or even that same afternoon. There is absolutely no difference in legal terms. Traditionally a resolution does not have the same content as a presidential statement - but, believe me, it is a significant achievement that there will be an agreement today from the Americans, the Japanese, the Russians, the Chinese, the French and the British stating that the launch was carried out in violation of the resolution, that it is to be condemned and that a system of sanctions should be put in place.

Q : What is the concept behind the new sanctions?

A : It is to clearly establish a list of entities and goods associated with the nuclear sector that are in violation of SCR 1718 and which therefore serve to support Korea’s military space program, since, as you know, we believe that the rockets that were fired are based on ballistic missile technology and that consequently there are a certain number of entities that took it upon themselves to participate in the launch. We condemn these entities. An updated list of all goods that are prohibited from being traded with North Korea must be established.

Q : Why have these sanctions not been applied? Is it because the six-party talks were resumed at that time, or because Russia and China were opposed to the sanctions?

A : That is the best possible explanation. I believe that within the Six-Party talks there was a willingness on the part of the international community to encourage dialogue as much as possible and in these types of situation we often try to use two different approaches: both dialogue and sanctions.

Q : Why would that only affect North Korean businesses?

A : That is the basis of the system; it means that the international community will not have the right to work with these entities. It is thus extremely clear.

Q : One issue that still needs to be resolved is how to classify what happened: is it a launch or a missile?

A : It is stated very clearly in the presidential statement: it is classified as a launch and that it is in violation of SCR 1718, which for us means that it is related to the use of ballistic missile technology and is thus very clear. You anticipate in the statement that the Sanctions Committee may not be successful and that the Council will take action if that happens.

Q : Why take this precaution? Have there already been signs that this will happen?

A : We want to provide tangible evidence that we want to the Committee to act quickly. The Committee works on the basis of consensus; if it is not possible to reach a consensus within a certain timeframe, currently anticipated to be around 10 days, then the Security Council will make a decision using its capacity to decide by vote.

Q : Is every country represented in the Sanctions Committee?

A : All the member States of the Council are represented.

Q : What about the Six-Party talks?

A : We also support them in this presidential statement because we believe that it is never too late to negotiate, just as we hope that North Korea will suspend all of its activities associated with ballistic missiles and that it will resume its participation, with full cooperation, in the six-party talks as soon as possible./.

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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU