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China, Russia veto US push for more UN sanctions on North Korea

China and Russia have vetoed a US-led push at the United Nations to toughen sanctions on North Korea over its renewed ballistic missile launches.

The 13 other members of the Security Council voted for the resolution on Thursday which was put forward by the United States.

It would have decreased the amount of oil North Korea could legally import as punishment for a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile Pyongyang carried out on Wednesday.

China, the North’s closest ally, and Russia, whose relations with the West have sharply deteriorated over its military operation in Ukraine, said they would have preferred a non-binding statement instead of a fresh resolution against Pyongyang.

The US “should not place one-sided emphasis on the implementation of sanctions alone. It should also work to promote a political solution,” said China’s ambassador to the United Nations, Zhang Jun.

He warned that sanctions would cause an “escalation” and humanitarian consequences for North Korea, which has been recently hit by Covid outbreak.

Zhang also accused the United States of wanting the resolution to fail so as to “spread the flames of war” as part of its wider plan to pressure China.

“The crux of the matter,” he said, “is whether they want to use the handling of the Korean peninsula issue on the chessboard of their so-called Indo-Pacific strategy.”

Meanwhile, Russia’s ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, said Washington is ignoring Pyongyang’s appeals to stop “hostile activity.”

“It seems that our American and other Western colleagues are suffering from the equivalent of writer’s block. They seem to have no response to crisis situations other than introducing new sanctions,” he said.

He went on to say that new sanctions against North Korea are “a path to a dead end.”

“We have stressed the ineffectiveness and the inhumanity of further strengthening the sanctions pressure on Pyongyang.”

During the past 16 years, the UN Security Council has steadily, and unanimously, ramped up sanctions to cut off funding for North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

Since 2017, when the council last stepped up sanctions on Pyongyang, China and Russia have been trying to ease sanctions on humanitarian grounds.

While they have delayed some action behind closed doors in the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions committee, the Thursday vote on the resolution was the first time they have publicly broken unanimity.

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