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Published On: Mon, Feb 13th, 2017

North Korean Missile Launch Prompts Criticism – Especially from Powers Armed to the Teeth with Nukes

Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : The UN Security Council is set to hold an emergency session on Monday following the test launch of a strategic missile by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) a.k.a. North Korea. The missile test prompted international outcries, ironically, especially from the governments of permanent UN Security Council members who are armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons.

Photo courtesy KCNA

Photo courtesy KCNA

The UN Security Council (UNSC) emergency session on Monday February 13, 2017 was requested by the United States, Japan and South Korea. However, the governments of Russia and China also “condemned” the DPRK for the missile test launch. The DPRK, on Sunday morning, fired the missile that according to South Korean government and military officials traveled about 500 kilometers before landing in the Sea of Japan.

The North Korean State news agency KCNA, for its part, lauded the successful test as a “Korean-style new type of strategic weapon system”. KCNA reported that the test was overseen by head of State Kim Jong-Un and usual rhetoric. Behind the rhetoric, however, is the fact that the government in Pyongyang repeatedly stressed that it is the United States that threatens with a possible nuclear first strike against the north, and that the USA continues “brandishing its nuclear stick”.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Monday that China opposes the missile launch which, according to Beijing, violated UN Security Council resolutions that prohibited such launches. Geng Shuang also urged all sides to refrain from any provocative acts and underpinned that he believes that dialog is the path to a resolution. What Geng did not mention was that adoptions of UNSC resolutions, even with the concurrent vote of all five permanent Council members, does not necessarily imply that such resolutions are consistent with international law, a country’s sovereignty and the sovereign right to self-defense. Chinese diplomacy also tends to omit that the DPRK’s policy aimed at self-reliance also aims at making the DPRK less dependent on Beijing and Beijing’s “nuclear umbrella”, and the fact that Pyongyang, in 2013, complained that China should not merely perceive North Korea as an appendage that provided cheap labor, rare earth and other materials to its hegemon.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry also expressed concern Monday about the missile launch. It is noteworthy that Moscow, in 2013, agreed to slam sanctions on the DPRK and that Moscow’s position may be motivated by several factors including 1) Not to allow China to dominate the region 2) to obstruct the development of the DPRK’s economy which at that time was aimed at introducing a Vietnamese rather than Chinese model of opening its market and in cooperation with major German partners which Moscow perceives as competition.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called North Korea’s actions “absolutely intolerable.” Abe’s comments came at a news conference alongside U.S. President Donald Trump during a visit to Florida. Abe said: “North Korea must fully comply with the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions. … During the summit meeting that I had with President Trump, he assured me that the United States will always (be with) Japan 100 percent, and to demonstrate his determination as well as commitment, he is here with me at his joint press conference.”

Abe omitted the fact that Japan still has no peace treaty with Russia, that it is in a position where it either can make concessions about territorial disputes over the South Kuril Islands (as Russia designates the territories it occupied after WW II) or Japan’s Northern Territories. Abe also failed to go into the details about the fact that Japan – like Germany, never regained its full sovereignty after WW II and that its defense policy is largely being dictated by Washington, and in part by Moscow.

US President Donald Trump, for his part, said: “I just want everybody to understand and fully know that the United States stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent.” Trump administration officials described the missile launch as a “challenge to the Trump administration”. Not one word about the fact that the USA – like other self-anointed permanent UN Security Council members significantly contributes to tensions in the region, and repeated threats about an US nuclear first strike against Pyongyang.

38th ParallelTalks about the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and the prospect of a peaceful coexistence and reunification of the divided country broke down in 2009. Largely omitted in the public discourse is the fact that Koreans are still suffering the tragic effects of the cold-war, the new cold war and the division of the country – a tragedy that many Germans and Vietnamese will be able to understand.

One of the main failures of the six-nations talks which collapsed in 2009 was that China, Russia, and the United States prioritized geopolitics higher than their alleged “obligation to maintain peace and security” a permanent UN Security Council members. So let’s reiterate the fact that the adoption of a UNSC resolution does not necessarily imply that the resolution or sanctions are consistent with international law. What such resolutions do imply is that self-anointed permanent hegemons “struck a deal” that is consistent with a compromise reached by them – kind of like when mafia families agree on the distribution of territories and on what measures to enforce against those who don’t comply.

CH/L – nsnbc 13.02.2017

About the Author

- Dr. Christof Lehmann is the founder and editor of nsnbc. He is a psychologist and former independent political consultant on conflict, conflict resolution and a wide range of other political issues. In March 2013 he established nsnbc as a daily, independent, international on-line newspaper. He can be contacted at nsnbc international at

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