President Yoon Suk Yeol denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the possibility of military cooperation between North Korea and Russia in his keynote speech before the UN General Assembly.
Yoon appeared as the 18th keynote speaker at the 78th General Assembly in New York on Wednesday.
The president said that if North Korea comes to acquire the information and technology necessary to boost its weapons of mass destruction capabilities in exchange for supporting Russia with conventional weapons, the deal between the two countries will be a direct provocation that threatens the peace and security of not only Ukraine but also South Korea.
He then stressed that South Korea, together with its allies and partners, will not stand idly by.
Asserting that “it is paradoxical” that a permanent member of the UN Security Council(UNSC) invades another sovereign nation and receives arms and ammunition from a regime that blatantly violates UNSC resolutions, Yoon said that an overhaul of the Council would be widely supported on the back of such a situation.
With the remarks, Yoon publicly denounced Russia’s move to engage in an arms deal with the North on the global diplomatic stage.
Though he did not mention in detail ways to revamp the UNSC, Yoon appeared to cite the Council's inability to slap additional sanctions on the North and to hold Russia accountable for its invasion of Ukraine due to the fact that Russia and China are permanent Council members.
Yoon then called for a joint response from the international community as he said any unlawful provocation can be deterred by “uniting in unwavering solidarity and steadfastly adhering to principles” even if military strength may vary among countries.
He vowed that South Korea, as a nonpermanent member of the UN Security Council for the 2024-2025 term, will play a responsible role in promoting and establishing global peace while working closely with UN member states.
He also stressed South Korea’s commitment to actively support Ukraine’s reconstruction, citing Seoul’s support package of two-point-three billion dollars in the mid to long term.
A lack of reference to China in Wednesday’s speech appeared to substantiate Seoul’s intention to improve ties with Beijing.