Efforts to Halt North Korea’s Nuclear Program Vetoed by Russia

“Then on Thursday, Russia did, in fact, veto the U.N. Security Council Resolution drafted by the US.”

Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, signaled that the U.S. would call for stronger actions to be taken against North Korea in light of the latest missile launch. Haley warned in an emergency meeting of the US Security Council on Wednesday that Washington is prepared to halt trade with countries that do business with North Korea, and possibly use force if diplomacy fails to curtail Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions. Ambassador Haley voiced the US position that North Korea’s actions were “quickly closing off the possibility of a diplomatic solution.”

“The world is on notice,” she told the 15-nation council. “If we fail to act seriously, there will be a different response.” The United States, she said, is “prepared to use the full range of our capabilities to defend ourselves and our allies. One of our capabilities lies with our considerable military forces. We will use them if we must, but prefer not to go in that direction.”

“There are countries that are allowing even encouraging trade with North Korea in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions,” she said. “Such countries would also like to continue their trade arrangements with the United States. That’s not going to happen.”

Russia and China, North Korea’s largest trading partner, voiced strong opposition to new international sanctions. Instead, they pressed the US to continue to resolve the crisis through renewed diplomatic talks, an approach that has not seen success thus far.

Vladimir Safronkov, a senior Russian diplomat at the US Security Council said in his prepared statement that, “Any attempts to justify a military solution are inadmissible. Any attempts to economically strangle North Korea are equally unacceptable. All must acknowledge that sanctions will not resolve the issue.”

In response, Haley took the floor to call on Safronkov to carefully consider his vote on the US resolution. “If you want to be a friend of North Korea, veto it,” she said. “But if you see this for what it is, which is North Korea showing its muscle, then you need to stand strong and vote with the international community to strengthen sanctions on North Korea. And if you choose not to we will go our own path.”

Then on Thursday, Russia did, in fact, veto the U.N. Security Council Resolution drafted by the US calling for “significant measures” in response to North Korea’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The US put the draft resolution before the 15-member council after announcing plans for new sanctions against North Korea.

Russian officials said there was no proof as of yet that the missile fired by North Korea was an ICBM. Russia says it took action blocking the resolution because the missile launch Tuesday had not been verified as an intercontinental missile.

Counter to what Russia was saying, North Korea claimed it was an ICBM. The US and the U.N. also determined that the Hwasong-14 missile launched by North Korea was of intercontinental range and was capable of reaching the US mainland, namely Alaska.

Russia has thwarted efforts by the US to stop the North Korean nuclear program in the past and has gone so far as to increase support for North Korea and invest 25 million dollars in new projects that include opening a ferry line between the two nations.

The lack of strong actions by China and Russia against North Korea is telling. The approach of continuing the same tactic and path that has been followed by US Presidents and administrations since 1991 has not resulted in any progress in halting the North Korean nuclear program. All indications are that that failed approach is not the direction the current administration is comfortable continuing.

Jon Harris

Jon Harris is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and former Army NCO, Sergeant Morales Club member, civilian law enforcement officer, and defense contractor with over 30 years in the law enforcement community. He is published in Army Trainer Magazine, authored regular columns in several newspapers, and is the author of the Cold War novel Breakpoint. His adventures as a security contractor in Afghanistan and Iraq can be found on www.dispatchfromdownrange.com. He holds a B.S. in Government and Politics and an M.S. in Criminal Justice and is currently completing his Juris Doctor degree.

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