IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency)
Remarks by Deputy Head of the Russian Delegation, Director of the Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Mikhail Ulyanov at the 61st Session of the IAEA General Conference during the adoption of the resolution, Implementation of the Agreement between the Agency and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on the Application of Guarantees in Connection with NPT, Vienna, 22 September 2017
The Russian delegation has joined the consensus on the resolution, Implementation of the Agreement between the Agency and the DPRK on the Application of Guarantees in Connection with NPT, for the following reasons.
First, the extremely alarming situation on and around the Korean Peninsula dictates the need for a reaction on the part of the General Conference, especially since the Korean Peninsula nuclear problem has a direct bearing on the IAEA mandate.
Second, a further reason for supporting the draft was the readiness of its co-authors to take into account some fundamental Russian remarks. As a result, provisions that went beyond the competence of the IAEA, including those concerning the launch of ballistic missiles, were dropped from the text. Language concerning the importance of political and diplomatic efforts has been strengthened somewhat.
Nevertheless, the adopted text is far from perfect. There are good grounds for doubting that the resolution will in any way contribute to a settlement.
When coordinating the draft, we had a distinct feeling that the authors were determined to further build up pressure on Pyongyang. There was a sense that just a little more pressure was needed to force the DPRK to accept the demands of the international community. Actually, we do not see any grounds for such glowing expectations. The way things work in practice attests to the exact opposite: Pyongyang responds to every new resolution for new sanctions with fresh tests, whether of a nuclear bomb or a ballistic missile. How many times should this situation recur before we all draw lessons and adopt a more productive approach, one that offers a chance for an early settlement of this extremely acute problem?
Some of our partners seem to have gaps in their institutional memory. I should remind you that sanctions were first used as instruments on a large scale in the early 1990s, when the UN SC introduced near-total trade and economic embargo against Iraq and the former Yugoslavia. Before long it became clear that sanctions were not conducive to achieving their set goals, but rather entailed unacceptable humanitarian consequences. In the case of the former Yugoslavia a way out of this appalling situation was offered by the Dayton accord, and in the case of Iraq, by launching the Food for Oil programme. But many seem to have forgotten these hard lessons. Again the course for endless “tightening of the sanctions screws” has been rolled out despite the fact that experience has shown us how this road leads to nowhere, other than the social and economic strangling of the population of North Korea. For all these reasons, we believe that the sanctions track has been practically exhausted.
I have to remind you that applying pressure in such situations must be backed by very active diplomacy. I hope our Iranian colleagues here would not mind if I cite an example from their country’s experience. Iran’s nuclear programme was only settled when, instead of introducing ever-new sanctions, which merely further drove the situation into an impasse, the negotiators concentrated on a creative search for mutually acceptable balanced solutions. As a result, the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan came into being and has become one of the major achievements of world politics in recent memory and proves that only political-diplomatic solutions were effective and there was no room for alternatives. We see nothing of the kind in the case of North Korea.
We proposed to the authors of the draft to include in the resolution at least a mention of the Russia-China settlement road map published by the IAEA as Document INFCIRC/922. However, our proposal was categorically rejected under pretexts we consider to be specious and inappropriate. For today the Road Map is the only detailed proposal for breaking the deadlock. And in rejecting the ideas put forward by Russia and China, none of the resolution’s drafters have put forward their own positive programmes. This attitude holds no promise of reaching an early resolution of the problem. However, we did manage to secure the inclusion in clause 13 of the resolution, which contains words in support of “peace initiatives.” We see this as at least indirect support of the Russia-China road map because there are simply no other peace initiatives on the table.
In discussing the text, we proposed to include a call to all the parties to refrain from provocative actions and bellicose rhetoric. The authors turned down this proposal. Apparently they think that such actions and such rhetoric give no cause for concern. We hold the opposite view based on the UN Charter, which declares threat or use of force in international relations to be unacceptable. Any departure from this bedrock principle will be fraught with catastrophic consequences. We consider extremely dangerous any threats to wipe the opponent off the face of the Earth, be it in the Middle East, North-East Asia or anywhere else. If agreed, such a draft would be a reminder, not only to Pyongyang, but to everyone it may concern. Unfortunately, the authors of the project for some reason thought it was superfluous.
We have also proposed including in the draft instructions to the Secretariat to send an agreed resolution to the DPRK representatives. However, that proposal did not find its way into the document because, for unclear reasons, some of our partners are categorically opposed to any contacts between the Agency and Pyongyang.
In conclusion, I would like to stress that the member states should now concentrate their efforts on maintaining the IAEA readiness to proceed to put the DPRK’s nuclear activities under constant and comprehensive international control, in full conformity with the provisions of the NPT and the Agency’s statutory functions. We entirely support the IAEA efforts in that area.
The IAEA should not distance itself from attempts to look for a political-diplomatic settlement of this mounting crisis. The Agency’s leaders should seek to build bridges with the North Korean representatives in order to engage them in a substantive dialogue on resolving the problems that have accumulated.