China, Russia to defend North Korea vetoes first at UN

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UNITED NATIONS — China and Russia defended their veto against a strongly-backed US resolution that would have imposed harsh new sanctions on North Korea, during a speech at a first-of-its-kind General Assembly on Wednesday.

The debate took place under new rules requiring the General Assembly to examine any veto passed in the Security Council by one of its five permanent members.

Close allies China and Russia reiterated their opposition to more sanctions, blaming the United States for mounting tensions in the Korean peninsula and stressing that what is needed now is dialogue between North Korea and the Biden administration.

Nearly 70 countries signed up to speak at the open meeting, which General Assembly president Abdalla Shahid praised for making the UN more efficient and accountable. “It’s not for nothing that it has been called ‘revolutionary’ by several world leaders I met recently,” he said.

Danish UN Ambassador Martin Bille Hermann told the 193-member world organization when he started his speech on behalf of the Scandinavian countries: “History is being made today.”

The Security Council is charged with ensuring international peace and security, he said, and using a veto to prevent the council from fulfilling its duties “is a matter of great concern”.

The adoption by the General Assembly of a resolution on April 26 requiring debate on the matter not only gives the country or countries vetoing it to explain their reason, but it gives all UN member states “a welcome opportunity to share our opinion on the matter in question. ‘ said Herman.

A unified Security Council imposed sanctions after North Korea’s first nuclear test explosion in 2006, and tightened them over the years in a total of 10 resolutions that attempted – so far unsuccessfully – to curb its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and cut funding. to make.

The Security Council’s 13-2 vote on May 26 marked the first serious division among the five permanent members who are vetoing a sanctions resolution by North Korea — China, Russia, the United States, Britain and France.

North Korea fired eight short-range missiles on Sunday in what appeared to be a one-day record for the country’s ballistic launches. It marked the 18th round of missile tests by the reclusive North Asian country in 2022, including the first intercontinental ballistic missile launches in nearly five years.

US Deputy Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis told the meeting that the record number of launches has taken place as North Korea “finalizes preparations for a possible seventh nuclear test”.

He called the actions of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or the DPRK – the country’s official name – “unprovoked.”

De Laurentis stressed that US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken “have repeatedly and publicly stated that we are seeking dialogue with Pyongyang, without preconditions,” and that that message has been relayed through private channels, including China.

“The United States is more than willing to talk about easing sanctions to achieve the full denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” he said.

Unfortunately, DeLaurentis said, the DPRK has only responded with “destabilizing launches that threaten not just the region but the world.”

Under the General Assembly resolution that required Wednesday’s meeting, the permanent member or members who veto take precedence over the list of speakers.

China’s UN Ambassador Zhang Jun first addressed diplomats, accusing the United States of ignoring positive steps by the DPRK and returning to its “old path” of “chanting empty slogans for dialogue and raising sanctions against the DPRK.” “.

This has “strengthened the DPRK’s mistrust of the US” and brought talks “to a complete deadlock,” he said.

Zhang blamed “the flop of US policy”, failing to implement the results of the North Korea-US dialogue during the Trump administration, and ignoring the North’s “reasonable concerns” about the tensions in the peninsula today.

“Where the situation goes will depend to a great extent on US actions,” he said, “and the key lies in whether the US can tackle the root of the problem, show a reasonable attitude and meaningful concrete actions.”

Russia’s deputy UN ambassador, Anna Evstigneeva, said new sanctions against the DPRK would be “a dead end”, stressing that current UN sanctions have not guaranteed security in the region “nor move us forward.” toward solving nuclear missile non-proliferation”.

“Anyone who takes the North Korean problem seriously has long understood that it is futile to expect Pyongyang to disarm unconditionally under the threat of a spiral of sanctions,” she said. “The establishment of new military blocs in the regions, such as the formation of the US-Britain and Australia, casts serious doubt on the good intentions of these countries,” also in Pyongyang.

North Korea’s UN Ambassador Kim Song denounced all UN sanctions and the proposed US resolution as “illegal”, saying they violate the UN Charter and his country’s right to self-defense to prepare for a possible security crisis in the Korean peninsula and in the region.

Modernizing the DPRK’s armaments is essential, he said, to protect North Korea’s interests “from direct threats from the United States”, which he says has not taken a step “to give up its hostile policies”.

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