A ‘nonsense’ post for North
By Kim Hee-jin
Korea Joongang Daily, in association with International Herald Tribune
June 27, 2011
After North Korea became the chair of the Geneva Conference on Disarmament that started Tuesday, an official at the UN watchdog organization said it’s “nonsense” for the nuclear-armed country to lead the multilateral disarmament forum.
“It is common sense that a disarmament body should not be headed by the world’s arch-villain on illegal weapons and nuclear proliferation,” said Hillel Neuer, an official at UN Watch, U.S. broadcasting company Fox News reported Wednesday.
Neuer added that appointing North Korea to head the conference is like “asking the fox to guard the chickens” and “damages the UN’s credibility.”
The 65-nation arms control forum rotates the turn to chair the presidency every four weeks in alphabetical order. Six nations take the chair in a year.
Cuba was supposed to take the position this rotation, but it requested a change in its turn, which meant the chairmanship was handed over to the next country – North Korea.
The newly minted head, So Se-pyong, a North Korean delegate of the forum, attended his first meeting on Tuesday and told members, “I will be very much committed to the conference. I’m sure this forum will bring a specific result.”
But another North Korean delegate of the conference said, “Refusing admitting North Korea’s efforts to disarmament is the concept of Western countries.
Like other countries, it is normal for North Korea to hold the chair of a UN forum.”
Iran, China and Burma supported North Korea assuming the presidency, according to the conference.
UN spokesman Farhan Haq told Fox News that the head of the Conference on Disarmament is selected by member states that sit on the conference, not the UN secretary general.
But he added that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned participants in January, saying “The very credibility of this body is at risk.”
Fox News reported that Western members of the conference have grown frustrated over the UN forum’s failure over the past decade to move forward on its core disarmament responsibilities, including curbs on the proliferation of fissile material.
North Korea withdrew in 2003 from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which the forum devised in the 1960s.
And in April 2009, it launched a long-range ballistic missile called Taepodong-2 toward the Sea of Japan, which failed to reach orbit.