UN Secretary General António Guterres speaks to the press at the UN headquarters in New York on August 16, 2017 (XINHUA)
Secretary General António Guterres said it was important "to dial down rhetoric and dial up diplomacy," at the UN headquarters in New York on August 16 in reference to growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The secretary general iterated that the UN will be always available to prompt a solution to the crisis, which must be political. "I will remain in close contact with all concerned parties and stand ready to assist in any way," said Guterres.
He also extended the same message at a meeting of the representatives of the six-party talks the day before, which include China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, and the United States. He called for steps such as confidence-building measures to defuse tension and efforts to de-nuclearize the peninsula.
Tensions related to the crisis "are at levels not seen in decades," Guterres stressed. He stated that "we need to heed the lessons of history--not to repeat the mistakes," referring to the war over the peninsula which took place from 1950 to 1953. "The potential consequences of military action are too horrific to even contemplate."
On August 5, the UN Security Council strengthened sanctions against the DPRK's exports, known as Resolution 2371 (2017), a full ban on the export of coal, iron and iron ore from the Northeast Asian country. Previously these items could be exported for livelihood purposes, in limited amounts. The council also prohibited countries from increasing the total number of work authorizations for DPRK nationals. It banned new joint ventures or cooperative entities with DPRK entities or individuals as well as additional investments in existing joint ventures.
Member states are requested to report to the Security Council, within 90 days of the adoption of this resolution, on the measures they have taken to effectively implement this resolution.
The secretary general expressed that the resolution sends "an unambiguous message regarding the peace and security obligations" of the DPRK, while also representing "an opportunity to solve this crisis through diplomatic engagement and renewed dialogue."
"The international community must send a clear, coherent message to the leadership of the DPRK: fully comply with international obligations, work towards reopening communication channels and support efforts to deescalate the situation," Guterres emphasized.
(Reporting from New York City)