UNSC split spells end of an era for US-led sanctions on North Korea

Published May 28, 2022
People watch a TV broadcasting a news report on North Korea's launch of three missiles including one thought to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), in Seoul, South Korea on May 25, 2022. — Reuters
People watch a TV broadcasting a news report on North Korea's launch of three missiles including one thought to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), in Seoul, South Korea on May 25, 2022. — Reuters

NEW YORK: A decision by China and Russia to veto new United Nations sanctions on North Korea pushed by the United States shattered any veneer of global cooperation, straining efforts to pressure Pyongyang as it prepares to conduct a new nuclear test.

The two countries on Thursday vetoed a US-led push to impose more UN sanctions on North Korea over its renewed ballistic missile launches, publicly splitting the UN Security Council for the first time since it started punishing Pyongyang in 2006.

US officials slammed it as a “sharp departure from the Council’s track record of collective action on this issue”.

“Today’s vote means North Korea will feel more free to take further escalatory actions,” Jeffrey Prescott, deputy to the US Ambassador to the UN, said on Twitter. “But we can’t resign ourselves to this fate that would be far too dangerous.” Russia’s UN ambassador called the resolution “a path to a dead end,” while China’s envoy said it would only lead to more “negative effects and escalation of confrontation.” Analysts and some diplomats said Washington may have miscalculated in its rush to impose consequences for North Korea’s missile tests.

“I think it was a big mistake for the US to push for what was sure to fail rather than showing unified opposition to North Korea’s actions,” said Jenny Town, director of the US-based 38 North programme, which monitors North Korea. “In the current political environment, the idea that China and Russia could agree with the US on anything would have sent a strong signal to Pyongyang.” One European diplomat said that their country supported the US resolution but that they were less appreciative of the timing and thought that Washington should have waited until North Korea carried out a new nuclear test.

The United States asses­sed that North Korea had tested six intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) this year and was “actively preparing to conduct a nuclear test,” which would be the country’s first since 2017.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2022

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