U.S. Statement – As Delivered by Ambassador Laura S.H. Holgate – Agenda Item 5c – Nuclear Verification – Application of Safeguards in the DPRK
Vienna, Austria, November 23, 2023
Thank you, Chair.
The United States remains gravely concerned at the DPRK’s unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile programs; its dangerous, irresponsible, and escalatory nuclear rhetoric; and its unprecedented number of ballistic missile launches, including ICBM launches and a satellite launch just this week. The DPRK’s actions and rhetoric both threaten international peace and security and undermine the global nonproliferation regime.
Just two months ago at the IAEA General Conference, the United States joined 66 Member States in sponsoring a resolution (GC(67)/RES/12), adopted by consensus, which deplored the DPRK’s ongoing nuclear activities and urged the DPRK to take concrete steps towards abandoning its nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs.
Regrettably, as the Director General described in his opening statement, the DPRK may be in the process of commissioning a new light water nuclear power plant, a type of facility that the DPRK has no prior experience building or operating. Without the independent monitoring, evaluation, and assistance that the IAEA provides to countries constructing new nuclear power plants, this raises significant nuclear safety concerns for the DPRK’s population, the region, and the global nuclear power industry.
Let us all recall: ongoing activities related to the DPRK’s nuclear weapons program violate multiple UN Security Council resolutions. It is imperative that all Member States fully implement relevant UN Security Council resolutions so that we send a clear signal that the DPRK must halt its provocations, abide by its obligations, and engage in sustained and substantive negotiations. Failure to comply and completely implement these resolutions will only embolden the DPRK to extend and expand its dangerous nuclear escalations.
Our goal remains the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and we once again call on the DPRK to engage in serious and sustained diplomacy. We harbor no hostile intent towards the DPRK and have repeatedly sought to engage the DPRK, through third parties and directly, orally and in writing, emphasizing our willingness to discuss practical steps both sides could take to address the security situation in the region. The DPRK has not responded.
Let me be clear, the DPRK alone is responsible for its continued provocations and failure to respond to 30 years of resolutions at the IAEA Board of Governors, the General Conference, and the United Nations Security Council. The DPRK alone is also responsible for the ongoing lack of diplomatic engagement or negotiations. We continue to consult closely with our partners and allies in the region on further attempts to engage the DPRK as well as how best to deter DPRK escalations.
We appreciate and commend the sustained efforts of the Director General and the Secretariat to monitor developments with respect to the DPRK’s nuclear program and strongly support the IAEA’s continued work to maintain readiness to carry out monitoring and verification activities in the DPRK, if called upon to do so.
Thank you, Chair.