Remarks in China

Sung Kim
Special Representative for North Korea Policy 
Westin Hotel
Beijing, China
April 21, 2016

AMBASSADOR KIM: Good afternoon (inaudible). I just had a very good meeting, I just had a very productive session with Ambassador Wu Dawei, my counterpart. I won't go into details about the session, but I can tell you that the U.S. and China remain united in firm opposition to North Korea's provocative and inappropriate behavior and on the importance of implementing UN Security Council Resolution 2270 fully and faithfully, and of course our common pursuit of the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

As you know, Deputy Secretary Blinken was in Seoul earlier this week, for discussions with the South Korean and Japanese counterparts, and I can tell you from those discussions that Japan and South Korea also share the same perspective with us that we must all work very hard to implement 2270 fully, and that we stand very much united in firm opposition to North Korea's irresponsible and reckless behavior. We will continue to coordinate very closely amongst ourselves and with the other partners in the Six-Party Process.

And finally, my South Korean counterpart, Ambassador Kim Hong-Kyun is also coming to China tomorrow, for discussions with Ambassador Wu Dawei, and I think that reflects our common perspective that China really has a very key role to play, that we want to engage them very closely on all aspects of our North Korea effort, starting with right now implementation of UNSCR 2270. Let me stop there and take some questions.

QUESTION: How do you assess the latest round of sanctions - are they being effective?

AMBASSADOR KIM: Well, you know 2270 is quite unprecedented in the robustness and the depth of its sanctions, and I think all of us have a responsibility to implement those sanctions fully. China worked very closely with us in coming up with this resolution. Frankly, it's as much China's resolution as it is the United States' or the Security Council's. So we expect and we hope the China and other countries will fully implement all provisions of the resolution.

QUESTION: The THAAD system, as its name suggests, is not designed to shoot or to counter short-range guided missile or other artillery owned by North Korea. So why does the U.S. have to deploy that on the peninsula despite undermining China and Russia?

AMBASSADOR KIM: I'd say, I missed the first part of the question.

QUESTION: The THAAD system, as its name suggests, not aimed to counter short-range guided missiles or other artillery owned by North Korea.

AMBASSADOR KIM: Look, the fact is that North Korea presents a very serious missile threat on the Korean peninsula, and we together with South Korea have decided that we should take appropriate defensive measures to protect ourselves against this missile threat from North Korea. And this is why we have started formal consultations about the possibility of deploying the THAAD system on the peninsula. It's a completely defensive system. There's no need for China or Russia to be concerned about the system.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, how do you estimate the size that North Korea may conduct the fifth round of nuclear tests?

AMBASSADOR KIM: Well, I think we're deeply concerned, and I think that concern is shared by China and other partners in the Six-Party process, that North Korea may conduct another provocative act. All I would say is that we call, we urge North Korea to refrain from any such provocation. I think that multiple UN Security Council resolutions have made very clear that they should cease all nuclear activities, cease all activities related to ballistic missile technology. And frankly, it's high time for them to start living up to its international obligations and commitments.

QUESTION: If North Korea were to conduct another test in the coming weeks, would the response on your part change at all? Would there be additional sanctions, would there be anything that you would seek to do differently than you are right now, if another test is to come?

AMBASSADOR KIM: Well, I don't want to speculate on what we might do. I can assure you that we will work very closely with our partners to come up with an appropriately strong response to whatever provocative actions they may take, including the possibility of another nuclear test. I suspect there would be different aspects to the international community's response, starting with an appropriate response in the Security Council. Different countries will be adopting unilateral measures in response to North Korean provocations. They'll be different aspects. But you know, North Korea really should refrain from provocative behavior and blatant disregard and defiance of Security Council resolutions.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, did you agree with the Chinese side this time on anything (inaudible) on what sort of actions to take in the event of another provocative action?

AMBASSADOR KIM: Look, I don't want to get into hypothetical speculation about what we or the Chinese together may do, but I think as I made clear, China and the U.S. remain united in our very firm opposition to provocative behavior by North Korea. And I think that proves that we would take appropriate actions in response to North Korean misbehavior.

QUESTION: Do you see any change in attitude from China on how to implement the sanctions compared to past times, and if it's so far giving any impact to North Korea?

AMBASSADOR KIM: I don't want to speak on behalf of the Chinese government, but I think you've seen that they've taken a number of steps towards implementation of the resolution. I hope, and I expect, that China will take its responsibility very seriously, and actually implement all provisions of this unprecedented resolution.

QUESTION: How do ensure that China or any other country, frankly, is actually implementing those sanctions? I mean, you say you hope they do, but is there a way that the UN can actually follow up and make sure that what's going on along the border is in line with these sanctions and the new requirements?

AMBASSADOR KIM: Well, you know besides the very important responsibility that we all carry as members of the United Nations, and I mean China sits as a member of the Security Council, and in fact co-author of the resolution, to implement this resolution. There is the Sanctions Committee of the Security Council, and I think they have a role to play. Within the Sanctions Committee there's the Panel of Experts, who I think obviously will monitor very closely implementation by different countries, and I think they will work with us and relevant countries to ensure that the resolution is implemented fully.

QUESTION: With the upcoming be the 7th Party Congress in North Korea, do you have any expectations for change from an economic or military standpoint?

AMBASSADOR KIM: I certainly hope that there will be a change in North Korea’s policies, attitude, and approach, but I think that you will have to ask the North Koreans, whether they will in fact adopt any changes as a result of the Party Congress. It is the first Party Congress in 36 years – obviously a big deal. I hope that this moves North Korea in a much more constructive direction, in terms of their pursuit of dangerous capabilities, in terms of undertaking serious economic reform, and in terms of caring better for their own citizens.

QUESTION: China has insisted several times that these sanctions are not an end in themselves, and China insists on resuming the Six-Party Talks. I wonder if you have had any conversations with your Chinese counterparts about how bring back North Korea to the negotiations?

AMBASSADOR KIM: We, and in fact I think other members of the Six-Party process, have made very clear that we remain open to credible and meaningful diplomacy. We all want that. Unfortunately, North Korea has shown no interest in working with us on some credible and meaningful effort towards denuclearization. I think right now we all have to focus on implementing 2270, and hopefully that will define choices more sharply for North Korea and that they will make some positive decisions on the way forward on whether they will engage with us on a serious effort towards denuclearization.

QUESTION: In light of these reports of a possible nuclear test in sometime early next month, is the U.S. military or U.S. government going to ratchet up its presence around the area to monitor for a nuclear test?

AMBASSADOR KIM: As you know, we have our annual military exercises still going on in the Korean Peninsula, so there is robust presence already on the peninsula. And we’re continuing to use all available assets to monitor the developments in North Korea, and that we do daily.

QUESTION: Did you have a chance to meet with North Korea’s Foreign Minister? He was here yesterday afternoon.

AMBASSADOR KIM: No, no I did not. He’s in New York now, right?

QUESTION: Is it your understanding there will be a nuclear test in the next (inaudible) North Korean nuclear test?

AMBASSADOR KIM: No, I mean that is not my understanding. I think that we are all concerned that North Korea may take another provocative action, including a possible nuclear test, but we have no definite information.

QUESTION: Can China not provide that to you?

AMBASSADOR KIM: I’m not sure they know. We’re all concerned, and we obviously all call on North Korea to refrain from any such behavior. But we have no concrete information.

QUESTION: At this point, how far do you think you are from getting into any direct bilateral talks with them?

AMBASSADOR KIM: Again, Nami, I think that we have made clear to them that we are open to productive diplomacy about the nuclear issue, about how we might work together towards complete denuclearization and that has not changed.

Great, thank you!