(CNSNews.com) – With Russia and China on Monday again shielding North Korea from a U.N. Security Council response to its latest missile launch, the U.S. representative noted that “the last time the council sent a strong, united message” – in 2017 – Kim Jong Un’s regime had not carried out provocative actions for almost five years.
“It also engaged in dialogue,” Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the council, alluding to a process that saw Kim and President Trump meet three times between mid-2018 and mid-2019.
The council was meeting in emergency session after yet another missile test by the Stalinist regime, the launch Saturday of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) which it claims is capable of reaching the continental United States.
The regime identified the ICBM as a Hwasong-15. It was the Hwasong-15’s maiden flight in late November 2017 that led to the unified Security Council response referred to by Thomas-Greenfield.
“It may be tempting to see this weekend’s launch as a rebuke from Pyongyang, a warning to the council that we ought to remain silent about its openly-declared campaign to build an arsenal of nuclear weapons,” she said.
“The reality is that the last time this council sent a strong, united message to the DPRK was in December of 2017 – more than five years ago,” Thomas-Greenfield recalled, using the acronym for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Stalinist state’s formal name.
“When we did that, Pyongyang refrained from any major provocations for nearly five years. It also engaged in dialogue.”
The December 2017 “message” took the form of a unanimous vote for a resolution stating that any further ballistic missile or nuclear test would trigger “further significant measures” against North Korea.
Just days after it passed, Kim Jong Un signaled a policy shift in a new year’s message, paving the way for a moratorium on long-range missile tests and the three meetings with Trump.
Although the diplomacy stalled in late 2019, Kim only abandoned the moratorium early last year. Since doing so, it has launched nine ICBMs, along with dozens of shorter range missiles.
When the Biden administration last summer drafted a Security Council resolution condemning the missile activities, Russia and China vetoed it. It was the first time since 2006 that the council had not responded to Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests with unanimously-endorsed resolutions.
“We are charged with maintaining international peace and security,” Thomas-Greenfield said on Monday. “But in the face of unprecedented launches last year, two permanent members forced us into silence in spite of countless DPRK violations.”
“If two member-states continue to prevent this council from carrying out its mandate, we should expect the DPRK to continue to defiantly develop and test these weapons,” she said. “The council’s lack of action is worse than shameful. It is dangerous.”
Thomas-Greenfield urged the council to condemn the latest provocation, but both Russia and China objected, blaming the U.S. for provoking the regime by conducting joint military exercises with South Korea.
“We have pointed time and time again to the need for all sides to show restraint and, through practical steps, to show their readiness to the resumption of dialogue,” said Russian Deputy Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy. “But, instead of that, what we’re witnessing is a sharp increase in military activity in northeast Asia. This only worsens the situation.”
Polyanskiy said the missile tests were North Korea’s “response to the unprecedented military maneuvers in the region that are carried out under the umbrella of the United States and have an obvious anti-Pyongyang orientation.”
U.S. sanctions and pressure aimed at coercing North Korea to disarm unilaterally would not work, he said.
Chinese Deputy Ambassador Dai Bing said the “crux of the issue” was the security threats faced by North Korea, citing U.S.-South Korean exercises and a recent visit to Japan and South Korea by NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, who he said “promoted Cold War mentality and bloc confrontation.”
“Such moves are highly provocative to the DPRK and aggravate its sense of insecurity.”
Dai said “certain countries” should “give up on geopolitical manipulation, stop the clamor about war, refrain from resorting to pressurization at every turn through military exercises and sanctions.”
The Russian and Chinese delegates both scolded the U.S. for calling emergency sessions of the council in response to North Korean missile launches.
“Constant Security Council meetings on North Korean agenda that take place in the conditions when some members of the council are not ready for a constructive dialogue and are only prepared to criticize the DPRK, do not help to resolve this situation,” said Polyanskiy.
With a resolution off the table, Thomas-Greenfield proposed a “presidential statement,” although that requires the support of all 15 council members.
Outside the chamber after the meeting, Thomas-Greenfield instead read out a joint statement on behalf of 10 council members, plus non-member South Korea, condemning the ICBM launch and urging the entire council to join in taking a stand.
The five council members that did not back the joint statement were permanent members China and Russia, and non-permanent members Brazil, Gabon, and Ghana.
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