Russia Under Fire for Controversial Veto Ending UN’s Monitoring of North Korea’s Nuclear Sanctions

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On Thursday, Russia blocked a UN resolution, effectively ending the United Nations experts’ watch over sanctions on North Korea that target its nuclear program, though the sanctions themselves aren’t going anywhere.

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This Russian veto led to Western claims that Moscow’s trying to cover up its own deals buying weapons from North Korea for the Ukraine conflict, which breaks UN sanctions.

With tensions up on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea’s boss, Kim Jong Un, is rattling the nuclear sabers and upping missile tests that could hit South Korea, the U.S., and Japan. These nations answered back by beefing up military drills and sharpening their defense strategies.

The vote in the 15-seat council had 13 for, Russia against, and China sitting on the fence. The UN Security Council resolution would’ve given the expert panel another year, but Russia’s block will shut it down when its term wraps at April’s end.

Before the vote, Russia’s UN rep Vassily Nebenzia told the council Western powers are trying to choke North Korea, calling sanctions out of touch and ineffective at stopping the country’s nuke weapon spread.

He slammed the expert panel, saying it’s just echoing Western bias, repeating dodgy info and analyzing iffy news snaps and photos. So, he said, it’s basically admitting it can’t give a clear-eyed view on how the sanction scene is going.

But the U.S.’s second-in-command at the UN, Robert Wood, said the panel’s digging is crucial and accused Russia of wanting to muzzle its “independent objective probes” because it’s been calling out Russia’s clear-cut breaks of UN Council rules over the past year.

He flagged that Russia’s stop sign will only spur North Korea to keep threatening global safety with new long-range missile tech and dodging sanctions.

John Kirby from the White House slammed Russia’s veto as careless, saying it weakens the North Korea sanctions, and flagged the growing North Korea-Russia buddy-up, as North Korea keeps sending Russia arms for the Ukraine war.

“The world ought to stand firm on the global no-nukes rules and back Ukraine as they fight for their freedom and stand against Russia’s roughshod invasion,” Kirby pressed on reporters.

The UK’s UN voice, Barbara Woodward, said Russia’s veto ties back to arms swaps between Russia and North Korea that snub UN sanctions, like “ballistic missiles swaps, which Russia’s then tossed into its illegal Ukraine invasion since earlier this year.”

“This veto isn’t about caring for North Korea’s folk or how well sanctions work,” she claimed. “It’s Russia wanting a free pass to dodge and ignore sanctions to stock up on arms against Ukraine.”

“This panel, by shining a light on sanctions skirting, was a thorn for Russia,” Woodward added.

France’s UN mouthpiece Nicolas de Riviere pointed out, “North Korea’s been handing over military stuff to Russia to help its Ukraine aggression, despite many resolutions which Russia itself okayed.”

Since North Korea’s initial nuke test blast in 2006, the Security Council has been piling on sanctions, with a total of 10 resolutions trying – without luck – to slash funds and stop its nuclear and missile programs.

The council’s latest sanctions were stamped in December 2017. China and Russia shot down a U.S.-led resolution in May 2022 that would’ve added new sanctions for a bunch of long-range missile firings.

The Security Council had a committee to keep eyes on sanctions and its panel of experts to chase up breaches had been okayed for 14 years until this Thursday.

The experts’ latest report from last month says they’re looking into 58 possible North Korean cyber heists from 2017 to 2023, worth about $3 billion, supposedly funding their weapons of mass destruction game plan.

The experts noted North Korea’s still sidestepping sanctions by pushing on with its nuclear weapons, making the core bomb materials, and sneaking in refined petroleum against council demands.

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