China, Russia veto new UN sanctions on North Korea - RTHK
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China, Russia veto new UN sanctions on North Korea

2022-05-27 HKT 11:30
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  • China’s UN envoy Zhang Jun says Washington should resume dialogue with Pyongyang.
    China’s UN envoy Zhang Jun says Washington should resume dialogue with Pyongyang.
China and Russia vetoed a United Nations resolution sponsored by the United States on Thursday that would have imposed tough new sanctions on North Korea for its spate of intercontinental ballistic missile launches that can be used to deliver nuclear weapons.

The vote in the 15-member Security Council was 13-2 and marked a first serious division among the five veto-wielding permanent members of the UN’s most powerful body on a North Korea sanctions resolution.

A united Security Council imposed sanctions after North Korea’s first nuclear test explosion in 2006 and tightened them over the years in a total of 10 resolutions seeking – so far unsuccessfully – to rein in its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and cut off funding.

But Beijing and Moscow told the Security Council after the vote that they oppose more sanctions, stressing that what’s needed now is renewed dialogue between North Korea and the US.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield expressed disappointment but not surprise at the vote, calling North Korea’s 23 ballistic missile launches this year, including six ICBMs after a five-year suspension, “a grave threat to international peace and security.”

“The world faces a clear and present danger from the DPRK,” she said, using the initials of the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and citing its continued pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.

China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun blamed the US for not reciprocating North Korea’s “positive initiatives” during talks with the Trump administration in 2018 and 2019.

He said it’s Washington's responsibility now to resume its dialogue with Pyongyang and find a political solution to the situation on the Korean Peninsula, where the 1950-53 war between North Korea and South Korea stopped with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

“The situation and peninsula has developed to what it is today thanks primarily to the flip-flop of US policies and failure to uphold the results of previous dialogues,” he said.

Faced with “persistent tension” on the Korean peninsula, Zhang said, “China has been calling on all parties to exercise calm and restraint and to desist from actions that could increase tension and lead to miscalculations.”

He said North Korea faces the harshest sanctions regime and instead of imposing new sanctions China and Russia have proposed lifting some sanctions to improve the dire humanitarian situation of North Koreans.

Earlier, Zhang alluded to the US “pivot to Asia” aimed at countering the rise of China as an economic and military power and America’s most significant competitor.

“We do not want to see anyone make use of the DPRK situation or the Korean Peninsula situation as a card for their strategic or geopolitical agenda,” he said. “We are completely against any attempt to make northeastern Asia a battlefield or to create confrontations or tensions there."

Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Moscow had repeatedly told the US that new sanctions against the DPRK were “a path to a dead end,” and had also stressed “the ineffectiveness and the inhumanity of further strengthening the sanctions pressure on Pyongyang.”

“The problems of security in the region, which also directly affect Russia, cannot be resolved through primitive and blunt means that have a direct impact on the population,” he said. “Over the past year, we are seeing only a worsening of the situation on the (Korean) peninsula.”

Wednesday’s announcement of the vote came hours after North Korea’s latest launches and followed Tuesday’s conclusion of US President Joe Biden’s Asia trip aimed at reinforcing the US pivot. It included stops in South Korea and Japan, where he reaffirmed America’s commitment to defend both allies in the face of the North’s nuclear threat.

The launches were the 17th round of DPRK missile firings this year. Experts have said North Korea wants to move ahead with its push to expand its arsenal and apply more pressure on its rivals to wrest sanctions relief and other concessions.

The resolution voted on Thursday would have reduced exports of crude oil to North Korea from 4 million barrels a year to 3 million barrels, and exports of refined petroleum products from 500,000 barrels a year to 375,000 barrels. It would also have banned the North's exports of mineral fuels, mineral oils, mineral waxes. clocks, watches and their parts.

The defeated resolution would also have imposed a global asset freeze on one individual and three companies including North Korea's Lazarus Group which reportedly engages in “cyberespionage, data theft, monetary heists and destructive malware operations” against government, military, financial, manufacturing, publishing, media and entertainment institutions as well as shipping companies and critical infrastructure. (AP)