North Korea’s bellicose rhetoric unacceptable
Over the Easter weekend, the Government of North Korea announced its intention to continue developing its nuclear capabilities and threatened to launch a nuclear attack against the United States and South Korea. On 30 March, North Korea declared that it was at war with its southern neighbour. The United States sent fighter jets and warships to the region and intends to set up a missile defence system on the island of Guam.
Vehicles with workers from the Kaesong industrial complex at the demarcation line between North and South Korea
In Berlin, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called North Korea’s stirring up of tensions “irresponsible and a serious threat to peace and security in the region”. He went on to say that Germany would continue to seek close coordination with its allies around the world as well as a dialogue with the Security Council members China and Russia. On 7 April, Westerwelle spoke on the phone to Germany’s Ambassador in North Korea, Gerhard Thiedemann, who briefed him once more on the situation.
Previously, the German Foreign Minister called for “level-headedness on all sides”. He said the “spiral of war rhetoric” must be stopped. He reaffirmed Germany’s solidarity with South Korea in view of the continuing threats emanating from North Korea. At the Minister’s request, North Korea’s Ambassador was summoned to the Federal Foreign Office on 5 April.
Greyness of everyday life in Pyongyang – while the regime issues threats
Meanwhile, North Korea declared its intention to restart the Yongbyon nuclear reactor, which ceased operating in 2007 as part of an international agreement. According to reports from Seoul, the country is also setting up medium-range missiles on its eastern coast. North Korea has been refusing to allow South Korean workers to enter into the previously jointly run Kaesong industrial zone.
Voting on the Resolution on North Korea
© UN Photo
Security Council agrees sanctions
The UN Security Council approved a resolution imposing fresh sanctions on North Korea as recently as 7 March. This was in response to the regime’s most recent underground nuclear test, carried out on 12 February 2013, and Pyongyang’s ongoing violation of previous UN resolutions.
Resolution 2094 (2013) strengthens existing sanctions against North Korea, by, for example, making various previous measures obligatory, such as banning any financial services relevant to the sanctions. It strengthens the inspection system as well. The Security Council also imposed travel bans on further individuals and froze their assets.
Continuing concern about nuclear and missile programme
Rocket launch in North Korea
The UN Security Council has already called on North Korea several times to give up its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. As recently as 22 January, the Security Council unanimously condemned North Korea’s launch of a long-range Unha 3 missile on 12 December 2012 in Resolution 2087 (2013) and further tightened its targeted sanctions against that country. North Korea had carried out missile launches and nuclear tests in previous years. UN Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874 of 2006 and 2009 as well as Resolutions 2087 (2013) and 2094 (2013), which were adopted recently, prohibit such ballistic missile launches and nuclear tests by North Korea.
The EU has responded too
After North Korea’s most recent nuclear test, the European Union also tightened its sanctions against the country’s leadership. European Union Foreign Ministers made the decision at their Council meeting in Brussels on 18 February. The punitive measures are aimed, among other things, at the ballistic missile programme as well as North Korea’s financial sector.
At their most recent meeting on 11 March in Brussels, EU Foreign Ministers discussed further action on North Korea. “We will continue on our very clear path without wavering,” said Foreign Minister Westerwelle. “North Korea’s policy of nuclear threats, verbal escalation and bellicose rhetoric – all that is irresponsible,” Westerwelle added. He said that within the EU further discussions would be held quickly on whether and how European measures must be taken that go beyond the UN sanctions.
North Korea is isolated internationally and one of the most closed-off countries in the world. The population is suffering due to the poor economic situation and the lack of basic necessities as well as political repression. The international community is making every effort to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear programme. The most important forum for these efforts were the six-party talks started in 2003 between the two Koreas as well as the United States, China, Russia and Japan. However, they broke down back in 2009.
Information for travellers
Against the background of the current threats from North Korea, travellers are currently advised to avoid all non-essential travel to that country. You can find more information in our travel and safety advice.
The German Embassy in Pyongyang will be able to function as normal for the foreseeable future. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle categorically and unequivocally expects North Korea to live up to its commitments under international law and to reliably guarantee the safety and operation of the diplomatic missions in the country at all times. The Minister stated that any cut-off date after which North Korea would no longer be able to guarantee the safety of embassies was unacceptable. He said there were clear rules on this under international law which were also binding for North Korea.
- Foreign Minister Westerwelle speaks on the phone with the German Ambassador in North Korea
- Westerwelle: North Korea must ensure the safety of the embassies
- “What’s needed now is level-headedness”
- Resolution 2094 (2013) of the United Nation's Security Council on North Korea, 7. 6. 2013 PDF | 128 KB
- EU Foreign Affairs Council conclusions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, 18 February 2013 PDF | 86 KB
- UN Security Council Press Statement on the North Korean nuclear test, 12 February 2013
- UN Security Council Resolution 2087 (2013) on North Korea
- Resolution 1874 (2009) of the United Nation's Security Council on North Korea, 12. 6. 2009 PDF | 102 KB
- Resolution 1718 (2006) of the United Nation's Security Council on North Korea, 14. 10. 2006 PDF | 90 KB
Last updated 07.04.2013