China and Russia veto the UN Security Council

China and Russia on Thursday May 26 vetoed in the UN Security Council a United States resolution imposing new sanctions on North Korea in order to sanction its ballistic missile launches, vividly displaying the division of the proceedings at the risk of allowing Pyongyang to benefit from it.

→ READ ALSO. Covid-19, Joe Biden offers vaccines to North Korea

The 13 other members of the Council voted in favor of the text which provided in particular for a reduction in imports of crude and refined oil by Pyongyang.

“Westerns have no other answers than sanctions”

Since 2017, when the Council unanimously adopted three sets of heavy sanctions, “Council restraint and silence did not eliminate or even reduce the threat”underlined the American ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, justifying her approach. “On the contrary, North Korea has been emboldened by the inaction of this Council”she said.

His Chinese counterpart, Zhang Jun, in a tense exchange with the American diplomat, accused the United States of having wanted a ” failure “ and to have “distancing the Council from dialogue and conciliation”. “The crux of the problem”he said, “is whether they want to use the Korean Peninsula dossier for their so-called Indo-Pacific strategy”.

Before the vote, he told journalists that he disagreed « total » from Beijing “to any attempt to make (…) Asia a battlefield or to create clashes or tensions there”. Zhang Jun called on the United States to “work to promote a political solution”claiming that new sanctions would have had humanitarian consequences in North Korea, recently tested by multiple cases of Covid.*

→ ANALYSIS. Joe Biden in South Korea, under threat from Pyongyang

Russia’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia has accused the US of ignoring Pyongyang’s calls to end its “hostile activities”. “It seems that our American and Western colleagues are suffering from the equivalent of writer’s block. They seem to have no response to crisis situations other than the introduction of new sanctions”did he declare.

Fear of another nuclear test

The American draft resolution also planned to ban North Korean exports of mineral fuels, watches and clocks, and any sale or transfer to Pyongyang of tobacco. The text also aimed to increase the fight against Pyongyang’s cyber activities.

After the rejection of this project and a clear display of the division of the UN Security Council on the North Korean file, this body may find it difficult to maintain the pressure to apply the sanctions decided in 2017, fear diplomats. At the time, multiple sectoral and individual measures had been taken against North Korea in the fields of oil, coal, iron, fishing and textiles.

→ MAINTENANCE. North Korea: “Missile fire will continue”

North Korea fired new missiles this week, including probably its largest intercontinental ballistic missile, shortly after a visit to Asia by US President Joe Biden. At the UN, the United Kingdom, France and South Korea expressed their fears that North Korea would carry out a seventh nuclear test, announced as imminent, which would be its first in five years.

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