UAE joins push for tighter sanctions on North Korea

Russia and China have stonewalled a US bid to add five North Koreans to the UN's sanctions list

A test fire of a tactical guided missile in North Korea. Korean Central News Agency / Korea News Service via AP
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The US, UAE, Britain, Brazil and others on Thursday pushed for tighter UN sanctions against North Korea after it fired tactical guided missiles this week, the latest in a string of missile launches.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, called for “unity in speech and action” from the Security Council after China and Russia blocked efforts to slap sanctions on five additional North Koreans linked to the country’s ballistic missiles programme.

She addressed reporters outside the Security Council chamber with her UAE counterpart Lana Nusseibeh and ambassadors from Albania, Brazil, France, Ireland, Japan and the UK before closed-door talks on the recent flurry of missile tests.

The seven nations were “unified in condemning the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] for its acts in violation of UN” rulings, said Ms Thomas-Greenfield in an agreed upon statement from the group.

“It is this unity in speech and action that has helped in the past bring the DPRK to the negotiating table and could advance stability for the region and the international community.”

She urged the UN sanctions team to impose additional penalties on those “contributing to the DPRK's unlawful weapons programme”, including the five new US-proposed entries.

The talks among diplomats in New York came after China and Russia delayed for six months a US effort to impose UN sanctions on five North Koreans that Washington says are connected to Pyongyang’s ballistic missile programme.

Beijing and Moscow have backed sanctions against Pyongyang to curtail its arms programme, but they also argue against increasing pressure on North Korea and have even asked for sanctions relief on humanitarian grounds.

North Korea on Monday conducted its fourth missile test this year, following two launches of “hypersonic missiles” capable of high speeds and manoeuvring after lift-off and another involving a railway-borne missile system.

The spate of launches prompted US condemnation and a push for new UN sanctions. Pyongyang has said its missile launches are part of its sovereign right to self-defence, accusing Washington of double standards.

“We have to respond to them, we have to let them know that their actions are unacceptable,” Ms Thomas-Greenfield said earlier on Thursday at an online event hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“It is jeopardising peace and security in the region. The countries in the region feel very insecure about the tests that they have done.”

North Korea’s state news agency KCNA said on Thursday said the country will bolster its defences against the US and consider resuming “all temporally suspended activities” — an apparent reference to nuclear weapons and long-range missiles tests.

Updated: January 20, 2022, 8:53 PM
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