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North Korea: China and Russia veto US-drafted sanctions for the first time since 2006

Russia and China vetoed a US-drafted UN Security Council resolution to tighten sanctions on North Korea on Thursday, in a vote the US ambassador to the UN described as “dangerous, disheartening, and likely to fuel Pyongyang’s quest to develop nuclear-capable missile systems.” 

The action comes after more than a dozen North Korean ballistic missile tests this year, all of which broke past UN resolutions and prompted a new international response, according to US officials. 

To be accepted by the UN Security Council, a resolution needs nine “yes” votes and no vetoes from Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, or the United States. The resolution was adopted by the Security Council’s other 13 members. 

The vetoes from Russia and China, who had not blocked any of the nine prior sanctions votes since 2006, were condemned by US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who said the gravity of the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear development had not altered. 

“For the first time in 15 years, a UN Security Council member has used a veto to prevent the council from carrying out its responsibilities to hold the DPRK (North Korea) accountable for its unlawful proliferation,” the US envoy said in a joint statement with Japan and South Korea. 

“Today’s vetoes are quite risky. Those members have taken a position today that not only contradicts the Security Council’s earlier conduct, but also jeopardizes our collective security.” 

“These council members have decided to shelter a proliferator from facing the repercussions of its conduct, and they have shown the worthlessness of their word by giving an unambiguous nod of approval to the DPRK,” Thomas-Greenfield said at a session at UN headquarters. 

North Korea has fired three missiles at least 16 times this year, the most recent being on Wednesday. At least one of North Korea’s tests this year was thought to be of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the United States’ mainland. 

New sanctions against North Korea, according to China’s UN ambassador, will not stop the country’s weapons development and may even enhance its testing. New sanctions might put even more strain on North Korea’s humanitarian crisis as it deals with the repercussions of the Covid-19 outbreak, according to Ambassador Zhang Jun.

Russia’s envoy also referenced North Korea’s Covid predicament as a justification for its veto. 

“Strengthening sanctions pressure on Pyongyang is not only pointless, but also exceedingly hazardous because of the humanitarian effects of such actions,” Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vasily Alekseevich Nebenzya said following the vote in translated remarks. Nebenzya claimed that sanctions imposed on North Korea for the previous 15 years had failed. 

The US envoy, however, Thomas-Greenfield, stated that China and Russia were not even interested in discussing fresh measures against Pyongyang. 

“For the past nine weeks, we have been circulating a draft of this resolution. Despite our commitment to openness and flexibility throughout discussions, the vetoing countries have failed to engage on the text during that period “she explained.

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