The international community is making every effort to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear programme. However, the country is adhering to its missile and nuclear programme as a source of national prestige. It is also using the programme as a “bargaining chip” in order to demand aid from stakeholders with an interest in security and stability in the region. After firing several short-range and at least two medium-range ballistic missiles in February and March 2014, North Korea announced a further nuclear test on 30 March 2014. The following day, North and South Korea exchanged fire across the internal sea border.
The UN Security Council has already called several times on North Korea 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 (2013) and tightened its targeted 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.
Continuing concern about nuclear and missile programme
The UN Security Council unanimously approved new sanctions against North Korea on 7 March 2013. This was in response to the regime’s underground nuclear test, carried out on 12 February 2013, and to Pyongyang’s ongoing violations of previous UN resolutions.
Resolution 2094 (2013) tightens existing sanctions against North Korea, for example by prohibiting all of the financial services listed in the sanctions. The inspection system will also be strengthened. 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.
The EU is also tightening its sanctions
As an immediate reaction to North Korea’s nuclear test on 12 February 2013, the European Union also tightened its sanctions against the country’s leadership. The punitive measures are aimed, among other things, at the missile programme as well as at North Korea’s financial sector.
North Korea is isolated internationally and is one of the most closed‑off countries in the world. The population is suffering as a result of the poor economic situation, the lack of basic necessities and 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 that started in 2003 between the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan. However, the talks broke down in 2009 and have not been resumed.
The German Government supports the launch of substantive negotiations on North Korea’s nuclear and missile programme. North Korea must halt these programmes, as demanded by the UN Security Council. During his visit to South Korea in October 2014, former Foreign Minister Frank‑Walter Steinmeier was highly critical of the lack of transparency in North Korea and called on the North Korean regime to discontinue its nuclear programme.
The German Government continues to regard the six-party talks as a suitable format for achieving a solution by diplomatic means. Until these talks are resumed, Germany is willing to host informal talks between the United States and North Korea.