(United Nations) The United States and China showed up at the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday on how to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula, with Washington arguing for more international sanctions against Pyongyang as Beijing demanded their relief.
“We need to strengthen the sanctions regime, not focus on sanctions relief,” said US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who initiated the emergency convening of the Security Council after the latest North Korean firings.
The diplomat rejected a draft resolution from China and Russia, which these two countries recalled having submitted to the Security Council a long time ago (without going so far as to ask for a vote). It aims to alleviate for humanitarian purposes the heavy international economic sanctions imposed in 2017 on North Korea, affecting its exports of coal, iron, textiles or fish products, and its imports of oil.
“We are nearing the end of negotiations” on the US draft text “and we cannot wait for a nuclear test” – imminent according to Washington – to “speak with one voice, we must act today”, insisted Linda Thomas-Greenfield, supported in this regard by Japan.
The US text, obtained by AFP, plans to cut from four million to two million barrels the amount of crude oil that North Korea would be allowed to import each year for civilian purposes, and would impose restrictions on further exports North Koreans, including mineral fuels and clocks.
According to a diplomatic source, a meeting of experts from the 15 member countries of the Security Council was scheduled for Wednesday but so far neither China nor Russia have wanted to discuss the content of the American text.
“The possibility of an escalation is worrying and we call on all parties to exercise restraint and stick to dialogue,” Chinese Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun said.
Asked after the meeting about the risk of another North Korean nuclear test, he replied, “Of course, nobody likes nuclear tests” and “what China wants to avoid is a new nuclear test”.
“That’s why we don’t want additional sanctions that could force one of the parties to take more proactive measures. Talking is better than coercive measures. We have seen so many coercive measures around the world, in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Have you seen any good results? What we have seen is only humanitarian suffering,” Zhang Jun said.
Deputy Russian Ambassador Anna Evstigneeva also pleaded in favor of the proposed resolution with China and called for the resumption of dialogue.