North Korea Arms Embargo Violation: US to Confront Russia at UN

The United States will confront Russia at the United Nations Security Council on Friday over violating a North Korea arms embargo
A general view shows the inside of the U.N. headquarters, on the day members of the United Nations Security Council vote on a Gaza resolution that demands an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan leading to a permanent sustainable ceasefire, and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, in New York City, U.S., March 25, 2024.
A general view shows the inside of the U.N. headquarters, on the day members of the United Nations Security Council vote on a Gaza resolution that demands an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan leading to a permanent sustainable ceasefire, and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, in New York City, U.S., March 25, 2024. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States will confront Russia at the United Nations Security Council on Friday over violating a North Korea arms embargo, and will push for China's view on growing ties between Moscow and Pyongyang, said deputy U.S. Ambassador Robert Wood.

The meeting of the 15-member council comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled to Pyongyang last week to sign a pact with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in which they agreed to provide military assistance if either faces armed aggression.

"This should be of great concern to the entire global community," Wood told Reuters ahead of the meeting, accusing Russia of "in essence siding with a rogue state to violate countless U.N. Security Council resolutions."

"This is unprecedented, and we need to call it out for what it is," he said. "We also want to see what China has to say about this growing military cooperation between DPRK and Russia. They cannot view this as a positive development."

China reacted guardedly last week. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the summit was a bilateral exchange between Russia and North Korea, but did not elaborate.

Formally known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), North Korea has been under U.N. sanctions since 2006 for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and those measures have been strengthened over the years - with Russia's support.

But over the past year the United States has repeatedly accused North Korea of sending weapons to Russia to use in its war against Ukraine, which it invaded in February 2022. Both Moscow and Pyongyang have denied the accusations.

'TRAINING GROUND'

U.N. sanctions monitors told a Security Council committee, in a report seen by Reuters in April, that the debris from a missile that landed in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Jan. 2 was from a North Korean Hwasong-11 series ballistic missile.

The panel of U.N. sanctions monitors was disbanded at the end of April after Russia vetoed its renewal. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said last week that Russia must abide by U.N. sanctions on North Korea.

"Russia is dead-set on breaking up the sanctions regime and China has not done much to restrain Moscow," said Richard Gowan, U.N. director at the International Crisis Group.

He said Friday's council meeting "looks more like a push by the U.S. to paint Russia as the villain" rather than a chance for the body to get the sanctions regime back on track.

Wood accused Russia of firing dozens of North Korean missiles at Ukraine, describing the war as a "training ground" for Pyongyang. Ukrainian state prosecutors said in May they had examined debris from 21 of about 50 North Korean missiles launched by Russia between December and February.

Last week U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield accused Russia of firing "a total of four possible North Korean-supplied ballistic missiles toward Ukraine – two on June 15 and two more on June 16."

For the past several years the U.N. Security Council has been divided over how to deal with North Korea. Russia and China say more sanctions will not help and want such measures to be eased. They proposed some sanctions be lifted in December 2019 but have never put their draft resolution to a vote.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols)

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