Will China, Russia Keep Blocking Action Against N.Korea?

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China and Russia have blocked any additional sanctions against North Korea as the renegade country continues ballistic missile tests and gears up to conduct another nuclear test. Although 13 out of the 15 member nations of the UN Security Council supported further sanctions, China and Russia have veto rights and blocked the move. This is the first time a UNSC resolution on sanctions against North Korea were voted down amid a new cold war against China and Russia by the U.S. and its allies. All nine UNSC sanctions resolutions since the North’s first nuclear test in 2006 were passed.

The latest sanctions aimed to reduce North Korea’s annual oil imports by another 25 percent from the current 4 million barrels. In 2017, the UN passed an “automatic” sanction resolution to tighten the spigot on North Korea’s oil imports after each nuclear test or missile launch. After the North conducted its sixth nuclear test and launched an intercontinental ballistic missile, China and Russia ended up backing the measure. North Korea has test fired several ballistic missiles so far this year, but China and Russia continue to ignore their previous decisions to support the automatic sanction resolution. The Chinese ambassador to the UN blamed the U.S. instead by saying Washington “holds the key to breaking the deadlock.”

In March, China and Russia also blocked a UNSC statement condemning North Korea’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, which blew up in mid-air. And last week Chinese and Russian fighter jets buzzed South Korea’s air defense identification zone without identifying themselves just after North Korea launched a brace of missiles. It is from China that North Korea imports most of the necessary materials to produce missiles such as carbon fiber and high-strength aluminum. The North also has a lot of Russian weapons. If China and Russia had adhered to UNSC sanctions against North Korea in the first place, Kim Jong-un’s nuclear buildup would not have been possible. Both China and Russia are to blame now that the North has a nuclear arsenal.

After realizing that his empty denuclearization promises were not working, Kim immediately resorted to resuming provocations, yet China and Russia are demanding a further easing of sanctions against the North. At every crisis, Xi secretly opened the spigot, while Russia looked the other way. Both China and Russia are using North Korea as a weapon against the U.S. and its allies, and Kim certainly knows what is going on. North Korea’s seventh nuclear test is widely expected to involve a tactical nuclear warhead that could be used on the conventional battlefield and poses a very real threat to South Korea. Will China and Russia continue to stymie UN sanctions when that happens? In that event South Korea, the U.S. and Japan will have to take their own emergency measures.

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