This is the first time in 16 years. And Thursday evening, at the United Nations Security Council, China and Russia vetoed a US-sponsored resolution proposing new sanctions against the Pyongyang regime.
Referring to the North’s recent launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles – six since January – Washington has proposed implementing a new series of measures to punish the North Korean state and its leaders in a bid to force them to stop developing their missiles and atomic weapons.
Since 2006, North Korea’s first nuclear test, the United Nations Security Council has passed 10 resolutions against Pyongyang that specifically punish its international trade and ability to finance itself from foreign countries. In each vote, the five permanent members of the Security Council – the United States, France, China, the United Kingdom and Russia – agreed to support these actions against the North Korean dictatorship.
This time, the vote in the Security Council, which consists of a total of 15 members, was endorsed by only 13 countries. To justify the veto, China and Russia made it clear that the sanctions strategy did not work with North Korea and that it was time to give a chance to dialogue with Kim Jong Un. “The situation and the peninsula have become what they are today mainly due to the change of US policies and its inability to maintain the results of previous dialogues,” said the Chinese ambassador to China, Zhang Jun.
The Chinese diplomat in particular accused the United States of failing to respond to Kim Jong Un’s “positive initiatives” in 2018 and 2019, when the regime froze missile and nuclear weapons tests to negotiate with the Trump administration. At the time, the North Korean leader demanded that some sanctions be lifted before proceeding with possible denuclearization of his arsenal.
The Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzia, shared the Chinese position, noting that imposing new sanctions would be a “stalemate”. He insisted that “security issues in the region, which also directly affect Russia, cannot be resolved by primitive and explicit means that have a direct impact on the population.”
broken global system
Linda Thomas Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said she was disappointed but not surprised by the Beijing and Moscow votes. She called the veto “dangerous” and noted that they risk undermining the weight of previous Security Council resolutions. And the French ambassador, Nicolas de Riviere, believed that the use of the veto “was to protect the North Korean regime and give it a blank check to spread further.” Several diplomats indicated that Pyongyang may soon conduct a new nuclear test.
This first serious dispute over North Korea, according to experts, illustrates a much deeper divide in the international community between Western countries and authoritarian states such as China and Russia, which now find themselves in strong and active opposition as the West defends the democratic model and liberal values.
The American international system as we know it has collapsed. The international system will be more and more fragmented and ineffective in managing international crises, such as the Ukraine crisis,” warned, even before the vote at the United Nations, in a symposium, Rahul Mishra, Professor of International Relations in Asia-Europe Institute of University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur.
He summed up: “We are entering an international multiplex system.” “A superpower, the United States, will play different roles in different theaters, each time, with different partners, especially middle powers, such as India, Australia or Japan, which will have to involve more in regional affairs,” detailed Rahul Mishra, adding with Because he does not believe in “Cold War 2.0… between two enemy blocs.