UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (C, front) attends aUnited NationsSecurity Council meeting on the situation on the Korean Peninsula at the UN headquarters in New York, on Dec. 15, 2017. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday expressed concern over risk of military confrontation on the Korean Peninsula and warned against any military action. (Xinhua/Han Fang)
UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- UN chief Antonio Guterres and several representatives of the UN Security Council on Friday expressed concern about the risk of military confrontation on the Korean Peninsula.
"Any military action would have devastating and unpredictable consequences," said the UN secretary-general.
"The situation on the Korean Peninsula is the most tense and dangerous peace and security issue in the world today. I am deeply concerned by the risk of military confrontation, including as a result of unintended escalation or miscalculation," said Guterres.
While all concerned seek to avoid an accidental escalation that may lead to conflict, the risk is being multiplied by "misplaced over-confidence," dangerous narratives and rhetoric, and the lack of communication channels, he warned.
"It is time to immediately re-establish and strengthen communication channels, including inter-Korean and military-to-military channels. This is critical to lower the risk of miscalculation or misunderstanding and reduce tensions in the region."
Diplomatic engagement is the only pathway to sustainable peace and de-nuclearization, said Guterres.
"We must do everything we can to reach that objective -- and avoid a level of danger that would be unpredictable in its trajectory and catastrophic in its consequences."
In 2017, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) conducted activities related to its nuclear and ballistic missile programs "at an alarming and accelerated pace," said Guterres.
Security Council Resolution 2375, adopted in September 2017, includes the strongest sanctions ever imposed on the DPRK.
"I reiterate my call on the DPRK leadership to comply with the relevant Security Council resolutions and allow space for the resumption of dialogue on de-nuclearization and sustainable peace on the Korean Peninsula."
He vowed to push for dialogue to defuse tension on the Korean Peninsula.
"I believe the United Nations Secretariat adds strategic value in three key areas. First, impartiality. Second, the voice and norms, values and principles for peaceful and diplomatic solutions, in line with international law. Third, offering channels of communication with all parties."
Representatives of several countries also expressed concern about possible escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Russia's UN envoy Vassily Nebenzia said "peace in this region is subject to serious threat and the threat of the increase in or transition in the confrontation to a hotspot is very great."
"Military rhetoric accompanied by a test of strength by the participants has led to a situation where around the world people have begun to wonder whether there will be war or not."
He questioned a slew of recent actions by the United States, including an "unscheduled and unprecedented" joint airforce exercise with South Korea and the decision to relist Pyongyang as a "state sponsor of terrorism."
"All of these steps force us to wonder about the sincerity of statements that suggest that there is a preference for a peaceful approach to resolving the crisis" by the United States, Nebenzia said.
Wu Haitao, China's deputy permanent representative to the UN,highlighted China's consistent efforts to promote dialogue and denuclearization, saying that resorting to force can only bring disastrous consequences.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson echoed the idea that the situation on the Korean Peninsula is "the most tense and dangerous peace and security issue in the world today."
However, he clearly backtracked from previous remarks about beginning talks with the DPRK "without any preconditions."
"A sustained cessation of North Korea's threatening behavior must occur before talks can begin," he said, adding that the DPRK "must earn its way back to the table."
South Korean Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Cho Hyun, who also spoke at the session, said that the DPRK is "indeed in the final stages of nuclear weaponization."
He urged the international community to "grasp the gravity and urgency of the North Korean threat" and find ways to halt its nuclear program and bring it back to the path of denuclearization.
In the face of repeated expressions of concern over the situation on the Korean Peninsula, the DPRK's UN representative Ja Song Nam reiterated in an angry tone that the country's possession of nuclear weapons "was an inevitable self-defensive measure" to counter the U.S. nuclear threat and blackmail.
He called the meeting "a desperate measure plotted by the U.S. being terrified by the incredible might of our republic that has successfully achieved the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force."