NATIONAL NEWS

Russian veto brings end to UN panel monitoring enforcement of North Korea nuclear sanctions

Mar 28, 2024, 7:45 AM | Updated: 10:28 am

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Russia vetoed a U.N. resolution Thursday in a move that effectively abolishes the monitoring by United Nations experts of U.N. sanctions against North Korea aimed at reining in its nuclear program, though the sanctions themselves remain in place.

Russia’s vote sparked Western accusations that Moscow was acting to shield its weapons purchases from North Korea for use in its war against Ukraine, which violate U.N. sanctions.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have heightened with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un threatening nuclear conflict and escalating tests of nuclear-capable missiles designed to target South Korea, the United States and Japan. The three countries have responded by strengthening their combined military exercises and updating their deterrence plans.

The vote in the 15-member council was 13 in favor, Russia against, and China abstaining. The Security Council resolution would have extended the mandate of the panel of experts for a year, but Russia’s veto will halt its operation when its current mandate expires at the end of April.

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the council before the vote that Western nations are trying to “strangle” North Korea and that sanctions are losing their “relevance” and “detached from reality” in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the country.

He accused the panel of experts of “increasingly being reduced to playing into the hands of Western approaches, reprinting biased information and analyzing newspaper headlines and poor quality photos.” Therefore, he said, it is “essentially conceding its inability to come up with sober assessments of the status of the sanctions regime.”

But U.S. Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood called the panel’s work essential and accused Russia of attempting to silence its “independent objective investigations” because it “began reporting in the last year on Russia’s blatant violations of the U.N. Security Council resolutions.”

He warned that Russia’s veto will embolden North Korea to continue jeopardizing global security through development “of long-range ballistic missiles and sanctions evasion efforts.”

White House national security spokesman John Kirby condemned Russia’s veto as a “reckless action” that undermines sanctions imposed on North Korea, while warning against the deepening cooperation between North Korea and Russia, particularly as North Korea continues to supply Russia with weapons as it wages its war in Ukraine.

“The international community should resolutely uphold the global nonproliferation regime and support the people of Ukraine as they defend their freedom and independence against Russia’s brutal aggression,” Kirby told reporters.

Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Barbara Woodward said Russia’s veto follows arms deals between Russia and North Korea in violation of U.N. sanctions, including “the transfer of ballistic missiles, which Russia has then used in its illegal invasion of Ukraine since the early part of this year.”

“This veto does not demonstrate concern for the North Korean people or the efficacy of sanctions,” she said. “It is about Russia gaining the freedom to evade and breach sanctions in pursuit of weapons to be used against Ukraine.”

“This panel, through its word to expose sanctions non-compliance, was an inconvenience for Russia,” Woodward said.

France’s U.N. Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere added that “North Korea has been providing Russia with military material in support of its aggression against Ukraine, in violation of many resolutions which Russia voted in favor of.”

The Security Council imposed sanctions after North Korea’s first nuclear test explosion in 2006 and tightened them over the years in a total of 10 resolutions seeking — so far unsuccessfully — to cut funds and curb its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The last sanctions resolution was adopted by the council in December 2017. China and Russia vetoed a U.S.-sponsored resolution in May 2022 that would have imposed new sanctions over a spate of intercontinental ballistic missile launches.

The Security Council established a committee to monitor sanctions and the mandate for its panel of experts to investigate violations had been renewed for 14 years until Thursday.

In its most recent report circulated last month, the panel of experts said it is investigating 58 suspected North Korean cyberattacks between 2017 and 2023 valued at approximately $3 billion, with the money reportedly being used to help fund its development of weapons of mass destruction.

The experts said North Korea continues to flout sanctions, including by further developing its nuclear weapons, and producing nuclear fissile materials — the weapons’ key ingredients. It also continues to import refined petroleum products in violation of council resolutions.

National News

Associated Press

Missouri high court clears the way for a woman’s release after 43 years in prison

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Supreme Court cleared the way Thursday for a Missouri woman whose murder conviction was overturned to be freed after 43 years in prison. A circuit court judge ruled last month that Sandra Hemme’s attorneys showed evidence of her “actual innocence,” and an appeals court ruled she should be […]

16 minutes ago

Associated Press

FDA OKs best-selling e-cigarette Vuse Alto, but only in tobacco flavor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal health officials on Thursday authorized sales of the best-selling e-cigarette in the U.S., Vuse Alto, allowing manufacturer Reynolds American to keep the vaping brand on the market for years to come. The Food and Drug Administration decision only applies to several tobacco-flavored versions of the reusable product, which takes cartridges filled […]

16 minutes ago

Associated Press

New Jersey to allow power plant hotly fought by Newark residents

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — In the first major decision issued under an environmental justice law designed to prevent additional sources of pollution in already overburdened communities, New Jersey will allow construction of a backup power plant at one of the country’s largest sewage treatment facilities. The facility dumped some 840 million gallons of raw sewage […]

55 minutes ago

FILE - Pens are encircled by "I Voted" stickers at an election precinct in Jackson, Miss., March 12...

Associated Press

Appeals court affirms Mississippi’s ban on voting after some felonies, including timber theft

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi legislators, not the courts, must decide whether to change the state’s practice of stripping voting rights from people convicted of certain felonies, including nonviolent crimes such as forgery and timber theft, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday. A majority of judges on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote that […]

1 hour ago

FILE - In this image provided by KFOR-TV, a heavily damaged vehicle is seen off a road in Tishoming...

Associated Press

After crash that killed 6 teens, NTSB chief says people underestimate marijuana’s impact on drivers

DETROIT (AP) — A horrific crash that killed six high school girls in Oklahoma two years ago has the head of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board urging parents to warn teenagers about the risk of driving after using marijuana. Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy made the appeal to parents Thursday as her agency released the final […]

2 hours ago

FILE - Rohit Chopra, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, speaks as President Joe ...

Associated Press

US agency says apps that let workers access paychecks before payday are providing loans

NEW YORK (AP) — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Thursday that apps that allow workers to access their paychecks in advance, often for a fee, are providing loans and therefore subject to the Truth in Lending Act. If enacted, the proposed rule would provide clarity to a fast-growing industry known as Earned Wage Access, […]

3 hours ago

Russian veto brings end to UN panel monitoring enforcement of North Korea nuclear sanctions