After American intelligence revealed that North Korea has manufactured a never-before-seen missile, sanctions and investigation were inevitable. That is, until Russia and China blocked the move and will allow North Korea to continue their secretive weapons building without interference.
The vote in the 15-member Security Council was 13-2 and marked a first serious division among the five veto-wielding permanent members of the U.N.’s most powerful body on a North Korea sanctions resolution.
A European diplomat familiar with the negotiations for the Resolution told CBS News that the U.S. had been advised to delay the vote to avoid a veto, as that could embolden North Korea.
“It is undeniable that the DPRK continues to illustrate its commitment to advancing its WMD and ballistic missile programs in violation of multiple Security Council resolutions,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the Council.
After the vote, Thomas-Greenfield responded to a question at the press stakeout by CBS News on the European advice: “Twenty-three tests since the beginning of the year, we have been silent and that certainly has not stopped the DPRK from more tests..so the veto lets the world know who their supporters are, who has blocked the Security Council from taking action.”
A united Security Council imposed sanctions after North Korea’s first nuclear test explosion in 2006 and tightened them over the years seeking to rein in its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and cut off funding.
Thomas-Greenfield appealed for unity before Thursday’s vote, calling North Korea’s six ICBM tests this year “a threat to the entire international community.”
She stressed that in the last sanctions resolution adopted by the council in December 2017, members committed to further restricting petroleum exports to North Korea if it conducted a ballistic missile launch capable of reaching intercontinental ranges.
North Korea suspended ICBM tests for five years, but she urged the council to act against its “dangerous and threatening” ICBM launches in the last five months including one on Wednesday.
China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun reiterated Beijing’s opposition to new sanctions against North Korea ahead of Thursday’s vote.
He called instead for the United States to take “meaningful, practical actions” to resume its dialogue with the country and find a political solution to the situation on the Korean Peninsula, where the 1950-53 war between North Korea and South Korea stopped with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
With tensions on the peninsula, Zhang said, it’s important to stay calm, avoid any provocative actions and “really give hope” to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — the country’s official name — by lifting some sanctions instead of imposing new ones.
“We do not think additional sanctions will be helpful in responding to the current situation,” he told reporters Thursday. “It can only get the situation even worse. … so that’s what we really want to avoid.”
Alluding to the U.S. “pivot to Asia” reflecting the rise of China as an economic and military power and America’s most significant competitor, Zhang said, “We do not want to see anyone make use of the DPRK situation or the Korean Peninsula situation as a card for their strategic or geopolitical agenda.”
“We are completely against any attempt to make northeastern Asia a battlefield or to create confrontations or tensions there. So, as a neighbor of DPRK and as a neighbor of the Korean Peninsula, we have our responsibility to maintain peace, security, and promote the denuclearization there. That’s always our goal,” he said.
Wednesday’s announcement of the vote and the U.S. release of the 14-page draft resolution came hours after South Korea reported that North Korea test-launched a suspected ICBM and two shorter-range missiles.