Germany Counts and Condemns North Korean Illegal Missile Tests

Published: 06 September 2021 Author: Stefan Talmon

For many years, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has conducted ballistic missile tests in violation of its obligations under the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. In March 2020, North Korea launched a series of short-range missiles which on each occasion triggered a strong condemnation from Germany.

On 2 March 2020, the DPRK conducted its first weapons test of 2020, launching two short-range ballistic missiles from its east coast. They flew some 240 kilometres before landing in the waters between North Korea and Japan. On the same day, a spokesperson for the Federal Foreign Office issued the following statement:

The Federal Government vehemently condemns today’s test by North Korea of two short-range ballistic missiles. Following thirteen tests last year, North Korea has thereby once again violated its obligations under relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. With the latest test, North Korea is irresponsibly jeopardising international security.

North Korea remains bound to the complete, verifiable and irreversible ending of its programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. The Federal Government urgently calls on North Korea to comply with its obligations under international law and in particular refrain from testing further ballistic missiles, as well as to accept the United States’ offer to take up the negotiations again that were broken off by North Korea.

On 9 March 2020, the DPRK conducted its second weapons test, firing three short-range rockets into the Sea of Japan. On the same day, a Federal Foreign Office spokesperson issued another statement which was largely identical with the one made a week earlier:

The Federal Government vehemently condemns today’s test by North Korea of several short-range ballistic missiles. This was already the second such test within one week. Therefore, North Korea has once again violated its obligations under relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council. With these tests, North Korea is irresponsibly jeopardising international security. The Federal Government also made this clear last Thursday in the UN Security Council, which addressed North Korea’s latest missile tests at the request of Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

North Korea remains bound to the complete, verifiable and irreversible ending of its programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. The Federal Government urgently calls on North Korea to comply with its obligations under international law and, in particular, to refrain from testing further ballistic missiles, as well as to accept the United States’ offer to take up the negotiations again that were broken off by North Korea.

On 20 March 2020, the DPRK conducted the third test in a row, firing two short-range ballistic missiles. The Federal Foreign Office once again condemned the test, saying:

The Federal Government vehemently condemns today’s test by North Korea of two short-range ballistic missiles. With two tests of several missiles this month and a total of fifteen tests since May 2019, North Korea has once again violated its obligations under relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. By conducting these tests, North Korea is irresponsibly jeopardising international security.

North Korea remains bound to the complete, verifiable and irreversible ending of its programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. The Federal Government urgently calls on North Korea to abide by its obligations under international law and, in particular, to refrain from testing further ballistic missiles, as well as to accept the United States’ offer to resume the negotiations that were broken off by North Korea.

The final test of the year came on 28 March 2020, with two short-range missiles being launched from the Hodo Peninsula near the coastal city of Wonsan. As part of the usual routine, the Federal Foreign Office issued the following statement:

The German Government condemns the new tests conducted today by North Korea of two short-range ballistic missiles. With a series of missile tests since the beginning of the month in violation of international law, North Korea is continuing to blatantly violate its obligations under relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council. At a time when global solidarity and cooperation in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic are vital, the country is jeopardising international security in an irresponsible way with the tests.

The German Government urgently calls on North Korea to abide by its obligations under international law and, in particular, to refrain from testing further ballistic missiles, as well as to accept the United States’ offer to resume the negotiations that were broken off by North Korea. North Korea remains bound to the complete, verifiable and irreversible ending of its programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles.

March is usually a busy month for the DPRK’s missile programme. March 2020, however, was truly remarkable as it marked the busiest single month for missile launches in the country’s history. Nine missiles were fired over four separate events. Compared to the thirteen ballistic missile tests carried out in 2019, on the other hand, 2020 was a relatively quiet year.

The events in 2019, once again, show that there is very little the international community is able or willing to do to respond to the DPRK’s violations of international law apart from issuing statements of condemnation of the missile tests. While Germany considers North Korea “a global threat” it is a threat it has accepted living with.

Category: Arms control and disarmament

 

Prof. Dr. Stefan Talmon LL.M. M.A

Stefan Talmon is Professor of Public Law, Public International Law and European Union Law, and Director at the Institute of Public International Law at the University of Bonn. He is also a Supernumerary Fellow of St. Anne’s College, Oxford, and practices as a Barrister from Twenty Essex, London. He is the editor of GPIL.

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