The United States and its allies have clashed with China and Russia, accusing the pair of obstructing United Nations Security Council action against North Korea over its ballistic missile launch.
On Friday, the 15 members of the Security Council failed to agree on a joint statement condemning North Korea’s recent ballistic missile launch. Instead, a number of countries, including France, the United Kingdom and the United States, have separately condemned Pyongyang’s continued missile tests.
North Korea this week carried out a record number of missile launches, including an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), bringing the total number of launches this year to more than 60.
US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that 13 of the 15 members of the Security Council have condemned North Korea’s increased ballistic missile launches since the beginning of the year, but Pyongyang is protected by two countries – China and Russia. them directly.
The US ambassador, using North Korea’s official name, said both countries had “backtracked” to justify repeated violations of UN sanctions by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
“And in turn, they made a mockery of this council by enabling the DPRK,” he added.
But China, North Korea’s closest ally, and Russia, whose relations with the West have been strained by the invasion of Ukraine, said at a UN meeting that the United States was to blame for ongoing tensions with North Korea.
Two members of the UN Security Council have backed down to justify North Korea’s illegal weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.
And, in turn, they gave North Korea a chance.
This cannot stand. The risks to the region and the world are enormous. pic.twitter.com/1UEFWixB0b
– Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield (@USAmbUN) November 4, 2022
China’s ambassador to the UN, Zhang Jun, said North Korea’s missile launch was directly linked to the resumption of large-scale military exercises between the US and South Korea, including hundreds of warplanes from both countries, after a five-year hiatus.
The Chinese ambassador also pointed to the US Department of Defense’s recent 2022 Nuclear Posture Review, which foresees the use of nuclear weapons by North Korea and said that the destruction of the regime in Pyongyang is one of the main goals of the US.
Anna Evstigneeva, the deputy ambassador of Russia to the UN, explained the sharp deterioration of the situation on the Korean Peninsula with “Washington’s desire to force Pyongyang to unilaterally disarm through the use of sanctions, pressure and force.”
He called the US-South Korean military air drills, which began on October 31, involving about 240 military aircraft, unprecedented, and said they were “basically a rehearsal for a massive strike on DPRK territory.”
In June, Yevstigneeva called for the lifting of sanctions against North Korea, saying the country needed more humanitarian aid and less pressure from the West.
North Korea has defended its weapons program and ballistic missile launches as legitimate defenses against a decades-old threat from the United States and its ally South Korea.
The US ambassador replied to the Chinese and Russian ambassadors: “This is nothing more than a regurgitation of DPRK propaganda.”
He added that the US-South Korean military exercises “do not pose a threat to anyone, not to mention the DPRK.”
“And just last month, the DPRK said its latest launches were tactical battlefield nuclear simulations to ‘hit and destroy’ potential US and ROK targets,” he said.
France’s UN ambassador Nicolas de Riviere called for continued pressure on North Korea over signs it is preparing to test a nuclear bomb for the seventh time at a meeting on Friday.
“The current escalation is unprecedented and these new provocations are unacceptable,” he said.
The UN Security Council imposed sanctions after North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006 and has tightened them over the years to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and cut off funding.
However, in May, China and Russia blocked a resolution that would have increased sanctions over the missile launch in the first major disagreement at the sanctions council against North Korea.
UN Assistant Secretary-General Khaled Hiary warned that UN Security Council unity on North Korea is essential if progress is to be made.
“The unity of the Security Council on this issue is essential to reduce tensions, break the diplomatic deadlock and negative reaction-reaction cycle,” Hiari said.
As Al Jazeera’s diplomatic editor James Bays reports from New York, the UN Security Council is not united in its approach to North Korea.
“Of course, many members want to come up with a joint statement, a strong statement condemning North Korea. But it seems that such a statement cannot be negotiated, because China and Russia are against such a statement,” he said.