U.S., Russia spar over U.N. sanctions on N. Korea

September 17, 2018

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17 (Yonhap) — The United States and Russia clashed at the United Nations Monday as each side accused the other of meddling in the writeup of an independent report on sanctions implementation against North Korea.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley told an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council that there was “evidence of consistent and wide-ranging Russian violations,” Reuters reported.

She said Russia has helped North Korea import refined oil in breach of U.N. sanctions imposed on Pyongyang for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, thus undermining efforts to denuclearize the regime.

“Russia must cease its violations of North Korea sanctions. It must end its concerted effort to cover up evidence of sanctions violations,” she was quoted as saying. “Its violations are not one-offs. They are systematic.”

This Xinhua file photo shows U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. (Yonhap)

This Xinhua file photo shows U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. (Yonhap)

Monday’s meeting came after Haley charged last week that Russia was interfering with the publication of a report by a U.N. committee monitoring sanctions implementation against North Korea.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also accused Russia last week of trying to “change the language” in the report, and called on the panel to “remain independent and report on the facts.”

Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vassily Nebenzia balked at the accusations, saying the first draft of the document did not meet the standards of objectivity and impartiality.

“The work of the panel of experts, which, because of decisions beyond our control, became increasingly politicized,” he said through an interpreter. “They became ultimately the hostages to the vision of Washington.”

Since the historic Singapore summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in June, Pyongyang has called for an easing of sanctions in return for steps toward denuclearization.

The Trump administration, however, has demanded more concrete steps from Pyongyang, such as an inventory of its nuclear arsenal.

The Russian ambassador said sanctions cannot be an end in themselves.

“They have to be an instrument in tool in order to involve the country in constructive negotiations,” he said. “Resolving the nuclear issue of the peninsula through just some sanctions and pressure on Pyongyang is impossible. Sanctions cannot replace diplomacy.”

South Korean President Moon Jae-in is due to fly to the North Korean capital Tuesday for his third meeting with Kim.

The three-day trip will be closely watched for any agreement that could help break the impasse in denuclearization negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang.

In Washington, Pompeo said the U.S. had called an emergency meeting of the council to discuss Russia’s “active attempts to undermine compliance with those sanctions” on North Korea.

“Global sanctions are an essential part of efforts to achieve denuclearization. We are as committed as ever to enforcing them,” he wrote on Twitter.

This EPA file photo shows Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vassily Nebenzia. (Yonhap)

This EPA file photo shows Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vassily Nebenzia. (Yonhap)

 

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