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EDITORIAL | Latest Provocations by North Korea Merit More UN Sanctions

The international community must not sit idly by and watch North Korea continue its provocations, with backing from Russia and China.



North Korean President Kim Jong Un visited a key munitions factory January 8-9. (©KCNA via Korean News Agency)

North Korea is becoming increasingly provocative. On January 10, North Korean official media reported that President Kim Jong Un recently emphasized that South Korea is its "principal enemy." 

According to the report, Kim declared, "We have no intention of avoiding war." He added more threats. If the South even contemplates using force against the North, he said, the North would "completely devastate [South Korea]." 

Before that, for three days from January 5, North Korea shelled areas near the "Northern Limit Line." That is a disputed maritime military demarcation line between North Korea and South Korea. Although there was no damage on the South Korean side, residents of islands in the affected area were temporarily evacuated. The South Korean military conducted artillery practice as a countermeasure.

Kim Jong Un attends a meeting of the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea on January 15. (© KCNA via Kyodo)

Out to Destabilize South Korea

Observers point out that North Korea is eager to destabilize the government of President Yoon Suk-yeol before the general election in South Korea in April.

Artillery shelling is prohibited by a military agreement signed by the North and South in 2018. However, North Korea announced in November 2023 it was unilaterally abrogating the agreement. North Korea's highly provocative behavior is totally unacceptable. And the international community must remain vigilant. 

At an important ruling party conference in 2023, Kim characterized South Korea as a "hostile and belligerent country." For half a century North Korea espoused a policy of seeking peaceful unification of North and South. After all, citizens of both countries share the same ethnicity. 

However, in the wake of recent characterizations, that policy has been altered. It is also significant that North Korea's series of provocative words and actions have received backing from Russia and China

Inside a key North Korean munitions factory with President Kim Jong Un on January 8-9. (©KCNA via Korean News Agency)

Ballistic Missile Sales to Russia

The United States government has revealed that North Korea has supplied short-range ballistic missiles to Russia. Some of them are also being used to attack Ukraine

Foreign ministers from 48 countries, including Japan, the United States, European countries, and the European Union, issued a joint declaration. It condemned this use of North Korean ballistic missiles to attack Ukraine "in the strongest possible terms."


Furthermore, the statement pointed out that Russia's use of these ballistic missiles in Ukraine also provided valuable technical and military insights to North Korea. The co-signees also expressed deep concern about the security implications that this cooperation has on Europe, the Korean Peninsula, the Indo-Pacific region, and around the world. 

The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on December 19 to discuss responses to North Korea's ICBM launch. In New York. (©Kyodo)

UN Sanctions a Must

The US intends to seek additional sanctions on North Korea in the United Nations Security Council. It cites Pyongyang's multiple violations of Security Council resolutions, including its latest missile launches. Nevertheless, the US and Europe remain at loggerheads with Russia and China over the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Therefore, Russia and China are expected to come to North Korea's defense regarding the violation of Security Council resolutions. 

Even though adopting such a resolution is likely to prove difficult, Japan, the United States, South Korea, and European countries should take the lead in the debate. They should express statements of condemnation and resolutions regarding additional sanctions. 

Nations that veto resolutions directed at North Korea should be made to explain their reasons. That applies to votes in the UN General Assembly as well as the Security Council. 

The international community must not sit idly by and watch Pyongyang continue its provocations. 


(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun

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