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South Korea Attacks Russian Veto Against UN Monitoring of Sanctions Against North Korea

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South Korea has attacked Russia for what it called an “irresponsible decision”, after Russia vetoed the extension of a UN panel overseeing the implementation of sanctions against North Korea on Thursday. A foreign ministry statement stated that South Korea “clearly points out that the Russian Federation, despite its status as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has made an irresponsible decision.”

The vote in the 15-member council, with 13 in favor, Russia against, and China abstaining, has no impact on the actual sanctions against North Korea. But it will end the mandate of the UN panel, which will have to end its operations by April end.

Observers believe that Moscow’s veto, was guided by the fact that it has been securing weapons from Pyongyang for the Ukraine war, and is keen to escape international scrutiny for this. According to an AP report, Moscow has never before tried to hinder the work of the UN panel which had been monitoring North Korea’s nuclear programme. Their work had according to the report been going on for the last 14 years.

Speaking to the Washington Post, Hugh Griffiths, former coordinator of the panel, said that the Russian veto has “told the world that UN-prohibited North Korean nuclear weapons programs are now, somehow, okay.” He added that the lack of monitoring of meant that the assets of thousands of people and companies doing business with North Korea could no longer be frozen.

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The Russian veto is highlighting the collective failure of the UN to function as Russia’s rift with the West grows.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called the veto “a guilty plea” by Russia, and the US described Russia’s actions as a “self-interested effort.”

North Korea has not commented so far.