Official position of the South African Government of its Misgiving on the Nuclear Test of North Korea

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

FOR ORAL REPLY

QUESTION NO: 314

PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO 35 DATED 24 OCTOBER 2006

Mr D J Sithole (ANC) to ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs:

Whether the Government has officially informed North Korea about South Africa's misgiving on the nuclear test it performed; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?

REPLY:

The SA government is totally opposed to the Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and is also committed to a world without weapons of mass destruction. Therefore when the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) announced that it had conducted a nuclear test, the South African Government issued a statement on the same day in which it expressed its deep concern at the reported test. In this statement, the Government reiterated its view that nuclear weapons threaten the total annihilation of humanity and are therefore not a source of security and do not serve any deterrent purpose whatsoever.

Accordingly, the South African Government called upon the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to fully and verifiably terminate any nuclear weapons programme, to return to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and to open all its nuclear facilities and materials to comprehensive IAEA safeguards inspections and surveillance.
In addition, the Government also encouraged all parties to urgently seek to intensify efforts that would facilitate the early resumption of the Six-Party Talks, which would contribute to an early resolution of this issue in a peaceful manner through multi-party dialogue.

During a Special Session of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) held on 13 October 2006, South Africa again reiterated its deep concern about the reported nuclear weapons test and called upon the DPRK to terminate its nuclear weapons programme.

We have been seized with this issue for some time since the announcement by the DPRK in 2003 of its intention to withdraw from the NPT and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), South Africa has continued to urge the DPRK to return to the Treaty and the IAEA. South Africa has consistently called on the DPRK to abandon any nuclear weapons programme.

In the Security Council, there were debates about a resolution under chapter 7 of the charter, which would have allowed for the use of force for non-compliance. This did not materialise because some of the permanent members of the Security Council rejected this option.

Finally after 14th October 2006, acting under Chapter 6 of the UN Charter, the Security Council imposed sanctions against the DPRK.

This resolution condemned the nuclear test, which was in disregard of various UN resolutions and demanded that the DPRK immediately retracts its withdrawal from the NPT, return to the treaty and accept safeguards through the IAEA.

This resolution was adopted unanimously. However, while China voted in favour of the resolution, it expressed reservations about the provisions calling for inspections of goods going in and out of the DPRK. China believes that these provisions are provocative and could lead to an escalation of tensions.

The sanctions include:

  • An embargo (supply, sale or transfer) on weapons or materials contained in the UN Register on Conventional Arms.
  • Resolution also includes an embargo on all arms/technology that are contained in the lists devised by the Security Council Sanctions Committee.
  • The sanctions imposed by resolution 1718 takes effect immediately and all UN member states are bound to enforce its provisions.

It was announced yesterday that DPRK has agreed to return to the 6 Party talks.

The South African government welcomes this and urges all parties to negotiate in good faith.


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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa