North Korea to Chair UN Disarmament Conference

Jonathan Wachtel

Despite numerous breaches of arms embargoes and continued threats to expand its nuclear weapons program, North Korea has assumed the presidency of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament. In a speech to the 65-nation arms control forum in Geneva, the newly-appointed president, North Korean Ambassador So Se Pyong, said he was “very much committed to the Conference.”

Appointing a North Korean to chair the UN’s only multilateral disarmament forum is like “asking the fox to guard the chickens,” says Hillel Neuer, of the UN watchdog organization UN Watch. Neuer is calling on the U.S. and European governments to protest the appointment, which he says, “damages the UN’s credibility.”

When asked about the controversy over North Korea’s new leadership role, UN spokesman Farhan Haq pointed out that the head of the Conference on Disarmament is selected by the member states that sit on the conference, not the UN secretary general…

…Iran, China and Burma were among nations that congratulated North Korea on assuming the presidency of the conference. This month, the U.S. Navy intercepted a North Korean ship suspected of trying to deliver missiles to Burma, forcing its return to North Korea. It was the latest incident among many, as Pyongyang continues the proliferation of arms and weapons-related materials, despite UN Security Council sanctions…

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