Russia, China Veto UN Security Council Vote on North Korea Sanctions

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Russia and China on May 26 vetoed a vote pushed by the United States to strengthen sanctions on North Korea, dividing the United Nations Security Council for the first time since 2006.

The vote in the 15-member Security Council was 13–2 and followed a string of ballistic missile launches by Pyongyang.

To be adopted by the UN Security Council, a resolution needs nine “yes” votes and no vetoes by the permanent members of Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, or the United States.

China and Russia, both permanent members of the Security Council and neighbors of North Korea have opposed the latest measure and called for sanctions to be eased.

“We do not think additional sanctions will be helpful in responding to the current situation. It can only make the situation even worse,” China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun told reporters earlier Thursday ahead of the vote.

China has instead proposed that the council adopt a formal statement instead of a sanctions resolution.

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told Reuters on Wednesday that he did not believe U.N. action would be “very conducive” to engagement with North Korea.

The draft resolution voted on Thursday called for, among other things, a reduction in the amount of crude oil that North Korea can legally import every year from four million to three million barrels, as well as a reduction in exports of refined petroleum products from 500,000 barrels a year to 375,000 barrels.

It would also ban the North from exporting mineral fuels, mineral oils, and mineral waxes, and halt the sale or transfer of all tobacco products to North Korea and tighten maritime sanctions.

A global assets freeze would also be placed on Lazarus Group, Korea Namgang Trading Corporation, and Haegumgang Trading Corporation.

Kim Su Il, an alleged employee of the Munitions Industry Department (MID) who is responsible for overseeing the development of the North’s ballistic missiles would also be added to the sanctions blacklist.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said she was disappointed by the vetoes from Russia and China, which had not blocked any of the prior nine sanction votes made since 2006.

By Katabella Roberts

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