The UN Security Council Is Divided, Once Again, Over North Korea’s Missiles

Debate on how to deal with a North Korean ballistic missile launch over Japan An already fractured UN Security Council split on Wednesday, as Russia and China insisted that US-led military exercises in the region had prompted North Korea to act.

Wednesday’s session ended without agreement on next steps, despite warnings from the United States and its allies that the council’s inability to reach consensus on North Korea’s record number of missile launches this year was emboldening North Korea and undermining the authority of the more powerful United Nations. body.

This board must realize that it is being tested and that its credibility is at stake. “This council must act, and produce action that restores its credibility,” said Hiroshi Minami, Japan’s deputy representative to the United Nations and one of those who urged the council to return to its previous unified position on North Korea’s launch.

North Korea’s missile flight on Tuesday was its longest-ever test of a nuclear weapon, a nuclear-capable ballistic missile that flew over Japan and had enough strikes to reach the US Pacific territory of Guam and beyond. The Japanese government was forced to issue evacuation alerts and stop trains.

The United Nations said North Korea fired an unprecedented number of ballistic missiles This year, now numbering more than 40, comes as North Korea appears to be headed toward a seventh test nuclear explosion. Early Thursday, North Korea launched two ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters, with an interval of only 22 minutes, officials said.

Some experts say North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is pushing for the development of an entire nuclear arsenal capable of threatening the mainland United States and the territories of U.S. allies, with the goal of extracting concessions from those countries.

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Tuesday’s launch was Kim’s first targeting over Japan since 2017. It came within days of US-led military exercises. In the Sea of ​​Japan with allies Japan and South Korea. The exercises included a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

Russia’s deputy representative to the United Nations, Anna Evsteneeva, insisted to Security Council members that it was the “irresponsibility” of those US-led exercises, along with growing US alliances with partners in the Asia-Pacific region, that drove North Korea into action.

China’s deputy representative to the United Nations, Geng Shuang, described the matter as a confrontation between the United States and North Korea, and urged a more conciliatory approach by Washington.

Wednesday’s session ended with a vague call for further discussion on the issue. It was the latest example of the growing polarization between Russia and China against fellow permanent members of the Security Council such as the United States, the United Kingdom and France.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China’s military assertion in the Asia-Pacific region, and the United States’ response to it, among other issues, have paralyzed the division in the Security Council over several key actions. That’s because all five permanent members have veto power against the council’s actions.

The Security Council imposed sanctions after North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006 and tightened them for years in an effort to curb its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and halt funding.

But in May, China and Russia blocked a Security Council resolution that would have tightened sanctions on missile launches, in the council’s first serious row over sanctions against North Korea.

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“Two permanent members of the Security Council have empowered Kim Jong Un,” Linda Thomas Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, told members of the Security Council on Wednesday.

Thomas Greenfield said previous missile launches this year had clearly taken place without any simultaneous US military exercises or any other obvious triggers, calling North Korea a “self-escalation”.

“We will not tolerate any country blaming our defensive actions… as the root cause of these threats,” she said. “The United States will not stand idly by because the DPRK directly threatens” the United States or its allies, she added.

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