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(Yonhap Interview) U.N. disarmament chief: Resumption of diplomatic efforts is only effective path for denuclearization, peace on Korean Peninsula

Interviews 09:00 November 10, 2021

By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, Nov. 10 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's recent series of ballistic missile tests contravene U.N. Security Council resolutions and negatively impact peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and beyond, a senior U.N. official pointed out.

Izumi Nakamitsu, Undersecretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, also stressed the need for the resumption of diplomatic efforts among the "key parties concerned," calling it the "only effective path" for achieving the complete and verifiable denuclearization and sustainable peace on the peninsula.

"The DPRK's continuing nuclear and ballistic missile activities remain a serious concern to the international community," she said in a written interview with Yonhap News Agency in advance of the 20th Republic of Korea-United Nations Joint Conference on Disarmament and Non-proliferation Issues.

The DPRK is the acronym for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and the Republic of Korea is the South's formal one.

She is scheduled to attend the annual session to open Thursday, co-organized by South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the U.N. Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA).

Izumi Nakamitsu, Undersecretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, is seen in this photo provided by her office on Nov. 10, 2021. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Nakamitsu cited the North's recent test launches using ballistic missile technology, including two short-range ballistic missiles from a rail mobile platform, a submarine-launched ballistic missile and a launch of an apparent hypersonic glide vehicle.

"Such developments negatively impact peace and security on both the Korean Peninsula and beyond," she said.

In its Aug. 27 report, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said there were "new indications of the operation" spotted in satellite imagery of the 5-megawatt nuclear reactor at its Yongbyon complex and assessed that the secretive nation carried out a round of reprocessing spent fuel from the reactor at the nearby Radiochemical Laboratory earlier this year.

Nonetheless, she noted, North Korea has observed a "declared moratorium" on further nuclear tests and launches of international ballistic missiles since November 2017.

"While the DPRK has been urged to return to dialogue on denuclearization, it has not yet indicated it is ready to do so," she said and emphasized the importance of restarting diplomatic efforts to move forward the denuclearization and regional peace process.

"The achievement of denuclearization and sustainable peace remain the only path for minimizing strategic risks and promoting durable security on the Korean Peninsula," she added. "This remains the only viable option on the table and the U.N. system stands ready to support all diplomatic efforts towards this end."

Regarding the sensitive issue of whether South Korea needs to get U.S. tactical nuclear weapons redeployed on its soil, Nakamitsu recalled the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and expressed concern about the possibility of accelerating a regional arms race in the event nuclear non-proliferation is abandoned.

"The preservation of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and the integrity of the NPT remains indispensable for avoiding the danger of any use of nuclear weapons and creating an environment conducive for diplomatic engagement on denuclearization and disarmament," she said. "Abandoning the cause of non-proliferation would only accelerate arms races in the region and beyond, destabilizing international security and increasing the risk that nuclear weapons could one day be used again."

On this week's conference, titled "Twenty Years of Achievements and Future Aspirations," she said it will serve as an opportunity to explore issues related to current challenges to international security, disarmament, nonproliferation and arms control. It is to bring together around 40 representatives of governments and intergovernmental organizations, research institutes and think tanks.

The conference will "focus on how the disarmament and non-proliferation landscape has changed over the past two decades, and take stock of the successes, setbacks and lessons learned as well as the priority issues in the years ahead, including the Tenth Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which will be held from January 4-28, 2022 in New York," she said.

Over the past two decades, it has been providing a "platform for dynamic and frank discussions" on various issues on disarmament and nonproliferation, she said, adding "I hope that this jubilee marks a milestone for the next decades to come."

ejkim@yna.co.kr
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