UN Will Ask Russia and China to Explain Their Refusal to Condemn N. Korea Missile Launches

(CNSNews.com) – The U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday will ask Russia and China to explain their recent vetoing of a Security Council resolution responding to North Korean ballistic missile launches.

The debate comes amid escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula, frequent missile launches, and U.S. anticipation of a possible nuclear test. It will be the first time permanent members of the Security Council are called on to justify their vetoes under a newly-adopted reform.

The China-Russia double veto on May 26 was the first time in 15 years that the Security Council failed to adopt unanimously a resolution condemning nuclear or missile tests by the regime in Pyongyang.

Although never enthusiastic about sanctions against North Korea, Russia and China nonetheless went along with a series of Security Council resolutions relating to the issue between 2006 and 2017. Nine of those prohibited any further ballistic missile launches; the regime has violated them repeatedly.

The double veto of a U.S.-drafted measure comes at a time when the five permanent members of the Security Council (P5) are deeply divided on a wide range of issues. Beijing and Moscow are increasingly coordinating their opposition to what they view as Western domination, prioritization of the “rules-based” international order, and the use of sanctions.


In addition to the P5 – the U.S., Britain, France, China, and Russia – which have veto powers, the Security Council comprises another ten non-permanent countries that serve two-year terms each. All ten joined the U.S., Britain, and France in supporting the resolution on May 26.

Amid frustrations over some veto decisions, most notably Russia’s veto in late February of a resolution condemning its invasion of Ukraine, the U.N. General Assembly in April adopted a resolution aimed at holding the P5 accountable for veto decisions.

Within ten working days of a veto being cast, the 193-member General Assembly must meet to hold a debate on the situation targeted by the vetoed resolution. P5 members that vetoed the measure will be invited the explain the decision, although they will not be obliged to do so.

(The Biden administration supported the initiative, despite concerns from some quarters that the U.S. will find itself having to justify its own future use of the veto, typically to kill resolutions condemning Israel. A majority of General Assembly member-states have historically taken a hostile stance towards Israel.)

Wednesday morning’s General Assembly debate will be the first to test the value and effectiveness of the new reform.

“The veto blocked the will of the rest of [the] council members and prevented the council from carrying out its responsibilities,” U.S. special representative for North Korea Sung Kim said on Tuesday.

Speaking during a teleconference briefing, he voiced concern that the Security Council’s inability to respond in a unified manner may encourage the regime “to take further provocative actions and further violations of Security Council resolutions.”

“We will hear from China and Russia tomorrow,” Kim said. “They have an opportunity to explain why they vetoed the resolution when the General Assembly meets tomorrow, and hopefully we’ll have some sense of why they chose to take that action.”

Kim, who is also acting assistant secretary in the State Department’s bureau of East Asian and Pacific affairs, said the administration hoped that China would be “more forthcoming” in working with the U.S. in response to the situation on the peninsula.

“There are shared interests and goals here. It’s hard for me to imagine that Beijing would actually want North Korea to continue to provoke, violate multiple Security Council resolutions, and destabilize the region,” he said.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Tuesday blamed tensions on the Korean peninsula on the United States, and what he called its “failure to accommodate the legitimate concerns” of North Korea.

“The U.S. side should demonstrate sincerity and take real steps instead of shouting empty slogans,” he said during a briefing.

Asked if China planned to do anything to prevent North Korea from carrying out another nuclear test, Zhao did not answer directly.

Instead he repeated Beijing’s talking point on the issue: “It is in the common interest of relevant parties and the international community as a whole to maintain peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and realize denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. China hopes that the relevant parties will work together and stay committed to the political settlement of the Korean peninsula issue.”

Multilateral and bilateral diplomatic efforts going back decades aimed at resolving the crisis over the regime’s nuclear and missile programs culminated in three summits between Kim Jong Un and President Trump in 2018 and 2019, but there has been little movement and no progress since.

Pyongyang early this year abandoned a moratorium on long-range missile launches, and has conducted 31 since then, including six intercontinental ballistic missile tests.

The Biden State Department says it has reached out multiple times to Kim Jong Un’s regime, offering no-preconditions dialogue, but to no effect.

Asked on Tuesday if the administration would still offer dialogue in the event North Korea carries out another nuclear test, Sung Kim said President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken “and other senior officials have made clear that we are deeply committed to finding a diplomatic path forward.”

He also said the U.S, in close coordination with its South Korean and Japanese allies, “will be swift and forceful in our response” to another nuclear test, although he declined to say what “specific measures” would be taken.


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