Russia And China Block New Sanctions For North Korea

( A UN Security Council resolution sponsored by the United States to impose stricter sanctions on North Korea over its recent spate of ballistic missile launches was vetoed last Thursday by China and Russia.

The 13 to 2 vote marked the first serious division on the issue of North Korean sanctions within the five veto-wielding permanent members.

US Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, while not surprised by the veto, expressed disappointment. She called the 23 ballistic missile launches conducted by North Korea this year “a grave threat to international peace and security,” adding that North Korea’s actions are “a clear and present danger” to the world.

After the last round of UN sanctions against North Korea was imposed in 2017, the Security Council committed to further sanctions restricting petroleum exports to North Korea should it conduct a ballistic missile launch that is capable of reaching intercontinental ranges.

Before Thursday’s vote, Thomas-Greenfield urged the 15 members to fulfill that 2017 commitment by acting against North Korea’s recent intercontinental ballistic missile launches.

China’s Ambassador Zhang Jun blamed the increased missile launches on the United States, claiming that the US failed to reciprocate North Korea’s “positive initiatives” during the talks held in 2018 and 2019 with the Trump administration. Zhang said it was up to the United States to resume its talks with Pyongyang and arrive at a political solution to the situation.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said that Moscow had repeatedly warned the United States that imposing new sanctions on North Korea was “a path to a dead-end.”

Calling the sanctions “primitive and blunt means” that directly impact the population, Nebenzia said over the last year, the world has seen how sanctions have only worsened the situation on the Korean peninsula.

Nebenzia accused the West of shifting the blame to Pyongyang while ignoring North Korea’s appeals to the US to stop “its hostile activity” which is preventing “the path for dialogue.”

Last Thursday’s resolution would have further reduced crude oil exports to North Korea from 4 million barrels a year down to 3 million. Exports of refined products would have been reduced from 500,000 barrels a year to 375,000. It would have also banned North Korean exports of mineral fuels, oils, and waxes, as well as clocks, watches, and parts.

The vetoed resolution would have also imposed a global asset freeze on one North Korean individual and three companies, including Lazarus Group which reportedly engages in cyberespionage, data theft, and cyberattacks.