NHK interview with US Ambassador to the United Nations

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield spoke to NHK on Thursday after the UN Security Council held an open debate about the human rights situation in North Korea. She said she hopes the council's message is being heard. Thomas-Greenfield's comments have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Yano Shohei: Would you tell us the reason you have been so committed to holding a public meeting on human rights in North Korea?

Linda Thomas-Greenfield: The Security Council has the responsibility of dealing with issues of peace and security. It is clear that the human rights violations being committed by the North Korean government are a threat to peace and security. We had briefings today from the High Commissioner for Human Rights from the Special Rapporteur on DPRK and also from a DPRK person who escaped and all of them described the horrific situation that exists in this country. And we know that those human rights violations, the forced labor, the abductions are being used to fuel their WMD program, and we need to pay attention to that. That's our responsibility.

The UN Security Council on Thursday held an open debate about the human rights situation in North Korea.

Yano Shohei: The DPRK has strongly opposed and criticized the US for holding the debate. What is your message to North Korea in light of today's meeting?

Linda Thomas-Greenfield: I hope that the North Korean government heard statements of some of the countries today. I would particularly encourage them to listen to the statement of the Albanian ambassador, who shared the consequences of living under such an authoritarian regime, I encourage them to listen to the statements that criticize their actions. And what I encourage them to understand is that North Korea cannot have peace without human rights. And we will continue to condemn the human rights violations that are taking place there. We will continue to condemn their WMD program, which is truly a reason that the Security Council should continue to engage on this issue.

Yano Shohei: We know today's meeting is the first open meeting on human rights in North Korea since 2017. What do you think the Security Council will do in the future about this issue?

Linda Thomas-Greenfield: Before 2017, the Security Council had regular meetings on human rights in DPRK. So I hope that this meeting is the first of many meetings that we will be having on the situation because again the human rights situation there for the people of DPRK should not be ignored and we have to continue to raise these concerns in the Security Council.

Yano Shohei: The United States, Japan and South Korea will confirm cooperation on the issue of North Korea at Camp David. How would and how should the UN deal with the North Korea issue in the future?

Linda Thomas-Greenfield: What will be interesting in the future is that the Republic of Korea will join Japan on the Security Council as an elected member. And the three countries along with other partners will continue to focus on this issue, we will continue to call out the DPRK. We will continue to condemn them and to encourage other countries to join in that condemnation. We had close to 52 countries stand with us today for our statement, including the European Union. And I think that's a strong message of unity that the DPRK needs to pay attention to.

Yano Shohei: Many countries today made statements regarding the abduction issue by North Korea. What do you think is needed to resolve this issue?

Linda Thomas-Greenfield: The abduction issue is just one of the many egregious acts that the DPRK is committing against the world. And we all made clear in our statements, that this is a situation that needs to stop, that in particular, those people who've been abducted, many of them who are getting old, need to be returned to their families. Many of them are in their 80s and have not had contact with their families for years. So the statements that were issued on that were very powerful, and I hope that the DPRK government will for once listen to what the world has to say. Thank you.