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Updated On: Sunday, November 19 2017

DPRK's nuclear risk 'most dangerous crisis we face today,' warns UN chief Guterres

5 September 2017 – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today “unequivocally” condemned the latest nuclear and missile tests by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), denouncing them as “profoundly destabilizing for regional and international security.

“Yet again, the DPRK has broken the global norm against nuclear test explosions,” Secretary-General António Guterres told reporters today at UN Headquarters in New York.

“Yet again, the country has defied the Security Council and the international community.

"Yet again, the DPRK has needlessly and recklessly put millions of people at risk – including its own citizens already suffering drought, hunger and serious violations of their human rights,” he added.

Mr. Guterres reiterated his call on DPRK authorities to comply fully with its international obligations, including Security Council Resolution 2371, which was adopted last month.

He welcomed yesterday's meeting of the Security Council,” saying: “The unity of the Council is crucial in addressing this crisis. That unity also creates an opportunity to engage diplomatically to decrease tensions, increase confidence and prevent any escalation – all aimed at the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

The Secretary-General stressed dialogue and communication as necessary to avoid miscalculation or misunderstanding.

“Confrontational rhetoric may lead to unintended consequences,” he elaborated. “The solution must be political. The potential consequences of military action are too horrific.”

“As Secretary-General, I am ready to support any efforts towards a peaceful solution of this alarming situation, and as I said, to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” underscored Mr. Guterres.

In response to a journalist who asked which of the global challenges he thought would be most focussed upon at the forthcoming General Assembly's High-Level Week, Mr. Guterres answered “The most dangerous crisis we face today, [is] the crisis related to the nuclear risk in relation to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.”

The 'gathering force' of climate change

Turning to another topic of vital importance, Mr. Guterres said the world continues to witness climate change gather force., and he expressed solidarity with all those suffering the devastating impacts of the unprecedented events seen in recent weeks –from Texas to Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sierra Leone.

“The United Nations stands ready to support relief efforts in any way possible,” he said, noting that the number of natural disasters has nearly quadrupled since 1970, with the US, followed by China and India experiencing the most since 1995.

Last year alone, 24.2 million people were displaced by sudden-onset disasters – three times as many as by conflict and violence. Even before the current floods, preliminary reports for this year show that there have been 2,087 deaths from natural disasters.

It is true that scientists caution us about linking any single weather event with climate change.

But they are equally clear that such extreme weather is precisely what their models predict will be the new normal of a warming world.

“With science forecasting a dramatic rise in both the frequency and severity of disasters, it is time to get serious about keeping ambition high on climate action – and on building resilience and reducing disaster risk,” he said.

Grievances of Muslims in Myanmar's Rakhine have 'festered far too long'

Members of the Rohingya community crossing the border into Bangladesh. Photo: Azam Sheikh Ali Haider/UN Migration Agency (IOM) 2017

Also today, the Secretary-General called for the Muslims of Rakhine state to be given either nationality or legal status, and voiced concern about violence that has since late August forced nearly 125,000 people to flee and risk destabilizing the region.

“I have condemned the recent attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army. But now we are receiving constant reports of violence by Myanmar's security forces, including indiscriminate attacks,” he told journalists, expressing concern about the security, humanitarian and human rights situation in Rakhine. “This will only further increase radicalization.”

Mr. Guterres said that he has officially written to the Security Council to express his concern and to propose various steps to end the violence, adding that the grievances of Rohingya – the Muslims in the Rakhine state – “have festered for far too long and are becoming an undeniable factor in regional destabilization.”

Mr. Guterres called on the international community to prevent further escalation and to seek a holistic solution, and urged the authorities in Myanmar to provide security and aid to those in need and safe access to life-saving aid.

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