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[Editorial] Growing security threat 

China, Russia veto UN Security Council sanction against N. Korea

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday took a vote on its resolution to strengthen sanctions on North Korea for launching an intercontinental ballistic missile a day earlier, but the resolution fell through due to opposition from Russia and China.

The 13 other members of the Security Council voted to adopt the resolution, but the two permanent members vetoed it. A resolution needs nine “yes” votes and no vetoes by five permanent members to be adopted by the council.

It is the first time in 15 years that a UN Security Council member has used a veto to stop the council from fulfilling its responsibility to hold North Korea accountable for its unlawful act. Russia and China hadn’t blocked any of the nine previous UN Security Council votes on North Korea sanctions made since 2006 when the North conducted its first atomic bomb test.

The latest vetoed resolution was based on the trigger clause of the UN resolution No. 2397.

The UN Security Council passed the automatic sanctions clause in December 2017 that if North Korea conducts a further nuclear test or fires an ICBM, the council will take action to further restrict petroleum exports to North Korea. At that time, China and Russia consented, too.

But then, the two countries disregarded the UN Security Council agreement. They did not comply with the clause that they agreed on.

China effectively looked on as South Korea was coming under North Korea’s growing nuclear threats, and even retaliated the South economically for deploying a self-defensive Terminal High Altitude Area Defense to fend off North Korea’s missiles. Meanwhile, Beijing calls South Korea an inseparable neighbor and a cooperative partner. Its attitude is contradictory.

In March, the UN Security Council discussed sanctions against North Korea, but failed to issue even a statement condemning North Korea’s ICBM launch due to opposition from China and Russia.

Whenever North Korea faced a crisis, China opened the back door for the North and Russia defended it. The two countries urged restraint and cool-headedness from related countries and blamed the US. A day before North Korea’s latest ICBM launch, multiple Russian and Chinese warplanes entered South Korea’s air defense identification zone without notice.

North Korea imports important materials of atomic bombs and ballistic missiles mostly from China. It also has many Russian-made weapons. If China and Russia had complied faithfully with UN Security Council resolutions, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-il could not have expected a “perfection of his country’s nuclear deterrence.”

China and Russia use North Korea and its nuclear threat as a card in their confrontation with the United States. Probably Kim knows this well. Their protection emboldens him to flout UN resolutions without reservation. As a consequence, North Korea succeeded in developing intercontinental missiles that can strike the US. Its seventh nuclear test has become a matter of time.

Proper functions of the UN Security Council regarding North Korea are collapsing due to vetoes by China and Russia. If the two countries keep using their status as permanent members of the council to side with the North, it would be virtually impossible to expect the UN to resolve the North’s nuclear problem through sanctions.

Internationally, confrontation is tense between authoritarian and democratic camps. The United States is increasing pressure on China and Russia in Europe and Asia. North Korea seeks to make the Korean Peninsula the flashpoint of the “new Cold War” under the protection of China and Russia.

North Korea, China and Russia all are countries unreserved in threatening their neighbors by force. In the era of the new Cold War, they share the same interests and will get closer to one another.

South Korea has entered an emergency situation where threat to its security is growing. It must secure deterrence quickly against North Korea’s nuclear weapons and strengthen not only the US alliance but also its solidarity with the liberal democratic camp.

By Korea Herald (khnews@heraldcorp.com)
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