The North Korean Government announced on 6 January that it had tested a hydrogen bomb. Any form of nuclear test, he said, constituted a flagrant violation of applicable United Nations Security Council resolutions. Foreign Minister Steinmeier condemned North Korea’s conduct in the strongest possible terms and summoned the North Korean ambassador to the Federal Foreign Office.
Repeated violations of UN resolutions
The UN Security Council has already called on North Korea several times to give up its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. In January 2013, it unanimously condemned North Korea’s launch of a long‑range Unha‑3 missile on 12 December 2012 in Resolution 2087 and tightened its sanctions against the 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 the recently adopted Resolutions 2087 (2013) and 2094 (2013), prohibit such ballistic missile launches and nuclear tests by North Korea.
Strict sanctions regime
In response to North Korea’s repeated violations, the most recent of these resolutions provides for the further escalation of existing sanctions against the country. For example, it obliges all UN member states to prevent any provision of financial services relevant to the sanctions regime. The inspection system was also strengthened, and there is a general obligation to monitor the flow of goods if it is suspected that they might be relevant to North Korea’s nuclear or ballistic missile programmes or other weapons of mass destruction. If a ship inspection is refused, North Korean ships will be forced to return to their port of origin. The Security Council also imposed travel bans on further individuals and froze their assets.
Stern response to alleged fresh nuclear test
On behalf of the German Government, Foreign Minister Steinmeier condemned North Korea’s latest alleged nuclear test in the strongest possible terms:
North Korea’s nuclear programme and repeated nuclear tests pose serious threats to peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and are an attack on the global non-proliferation regime. With this renewed violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, North Korea is breaching the principles of the international community and endangering regional and international security.
In addition, the North Korean ambassador was summoned at Steinmeier’s behest to appear immediately at the Federal Foreign Office. Germany’s position on the matter was made unmistakeably clear to him.
Foreign Minister Steinmeier also spoke about the affair on the phone to his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida. The only country ever to have suffered nuclear attacks, when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were targeted in 1945, Japan is particularly threatened by North Korea’s nuclear programme due to its proximity to the Korean peninsula. Steinmeier therefore assured him of Germany’s support for Japan in condemning the nuclear test.
Emergency session of UN Security Council
On the same day, the UN Security Council also convened for an emergency session. The press statement released afterwards condemns the North Korean Government’s conduct as “a clear violation” of applicable resolutions and a “threat to international peace and security”.
Looking to the future, Steinmeier went on to say:
We urge North Korea to adhere to the United Nations Security Council resolutions and to return to the negotiating table. The international community must now react resolutely and unambiguously to North Korea’s conduct.