UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The United States and its allies clashed with Russia and China on Friday North Korea’s failed start of a military spy satellite this week in violation of several UN Security Council resolutions that Moscow and Beijing declined to condemn.
The confrontation was the latest related to the North’s escalating nuclear, missile and military programs, which US Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood warned threatened international peace and security. The failed launch “not only disrupted maritime and air traffic in the region, but also alarmed neighbors in Japan and the Republic of Korea,” he said.
Pyongyang is threatening another launch soon.
The Security Council imposed sanctions after North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006 and tightened them in a total of ten resolutions over the years to – so far unsuccessfully – contain the nuclear and ballistic missile programs and cut funding. In the last sanctions resolution passed by the council in December 2017, members committed to further restricting oil exports to North Korea if the country were to conduct a ballistic missile launch that could reach intercontinental ranges.
In May 2022, China and Russia vetoed a US-backed resolution that would have imposed new sanctions, including on oil exports, over a spate of ICBM launches. Since then, they have blocked all Council action, including press statements.
UN President Rosemary DiCarlo told the council that North Korea last launched a satellite launch similar to the attempt that failed on Wednesday on February 7, 2016, and that the Security Council had condemned it.
“The lack of unity and impetus in the Security Council does little to slow down the negative developments on the Korean peninsula,” she said, and North Korea “is subject to unrestricted constraints and other parties are forced to focus on military deterrence.”
But North Korea’s neighbor and ally China and Russia, which has moved closer to Pyongyang since the war in Ukraine, blamed the West, and particularly the US, for the current tensions.
China’s deputy ambassador to the UN Geng Shuang said the situation on the Korean peninsula was a Cold War remnant. He accused the United States of failing to respond to North Korea’s attempts at dialogue over the years, instead resorting to sanctions and pressure on Pyongyang, thereby missing an opportunity to resolve the nuclear issue.
“By including the (Korean) Peninsula in its Indo-Pacific strategy, the US has continued military activities and significantly increased its military presence both in the Peninsula and in the surrounding areas, seriously undermining the strategic security interests of the Peninsula and its neighboring areas. “Countries,” Geng said
He also referred to the recent Washington statement between the US and South Korea, including plans to send strategic nuclear submarines to the peninsula.
Geng claimed US policy was “driven by geopolitical self-interest” and told the council that blaming one party “will only exacerbate conflicts and provocations, and bring new uncertainties to the already tense situation on the peninsula.”
He called on the council to pass a resolution sponsored by China and Russia in November 2021 that would end a series of sanctions against the north, saying it was a starting point “to ensure de-escalation, mutual trust and unity” among the 15 to encourage members.
Russia’s deputy ambassador Anna Evstigneeva blamed increasing pressure on North Korea from the US and its allies for “the spiraling tensions we are now witnessing”. And she has criticized the increasing military activities by the US, Japan and South Korea, particularly the recent large-scale military exercises between the US and South Korea, saying these are destabilizing not only for Northeast Asia but for the entire Asia-Pacific region.
Russia is against “the impasse and inhumane policy of increasing sanctions pressure,” Evstigneeva said, stressing that UN resolutions imposing sanctions also supported efforts to resolve the situation on the Korean Peninsula through political and diplomatic means.
Russia is urging the United States to take steps to ease tensions and resume dialogue rather than trying to shift responsibility “to other countries,” she said, also supporting the council’s actions on the China-Russia resolution.
Wood, the US envoy, countered that the Washington statement was in response to North Korea’s destabilizing nuclear and ballistic missile activities.
“It’s hard to imagine that we would relax sanctions,” as called for in the draft resolution between China and Russia, and reward Pyongyang while it continues to violate Security Council resolutions, he said.
On diplomacy, Wood said the United States has said on many occasions that it is ready for unconditional dialogue, but North Korea has “rejected our interventions on many occasions.”
He stressed that US-South Korean military exercises are legitimate efforts to defend against Pyongyang’s escalating activities, which allow the country to advance its illicit weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs – and “continue to favor ammunition over food” for its people.
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