China and Russia on Thursday vetoed a UN-led pressure to impose further UN sanctions on North Korea for launching new ballistic missiles, publicly splitting the UN Security Council for the first time since Pyongyang began sanctions in 2006.
The remaining 13 council members voted in favor of the US draft resolution, which called for a ban on tobacco and oil exports to North Korea, led by Kim Jong Un, a chain smoker. It would blacklist the Lazarus hacking group, which the United States has said is linked to North Korea.
The vote comes a day after North Korea fired three missiles after US President Joe Biden’s visit to Asia, one of which is believed to be its largest intercontinental ballistic missile. It was the latest in a series of ballistic missile launches this year, banned by the Security Council.
Citing the council’s silence on North Korea, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said this month that “now is the time to stop granting sanctions and start taking action.”
For the past 16 years, the Security Council has consistently, and unanimously, increased sanctions to cut off funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. It last tightened sanctions on Pyongyang in 2017.
Since then, China and Russia have been pushing for easing sanctions on humanitarian grounds. Although they have delayed some steps behind closed doors in the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions committee, they voted unanimously for the first time in a vote on Thursday’s resolution.
“We do not think that additional sanctions will help to respond to the current situation. It could make the situation worse,” Zhang Jun, China’s ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters before the vote on Thursday.
Russia’s UN ambassador Vasily Nebenzia told Reuters on Wednesday that he did not believe the UN move would be “very helpful” for North Korea to be involved.
China has also called on the United States to take steps to persuade Pyongyang to resume talks suspended from 2019 after three failed summits between Kim and then-US President Donald Trump.
“The United States, as a direct party, should take really meaningful and practical steps to resume its dialogue with the DPRK (North Korea),” Zhang said, adding that Washington included lifting some unilateral sanctions.
Pyongyang has suspended tests for the past few years, but has resumed launching long-range ballistic missiles in recent months. The United States and South Korea have warned that North Korea is preparing for its seventh nuclear test.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)