Russia backs North Korea in Security Council to secure its weapons delivery

In the Security Council vote on March 28, Russia voted against renewing a UN panel monitoring sanctions against North Korea. 

It came weeks after the body announced that it was investigating reports of weapons shipments between Moscow and Pyongyang. The panel’s mandate expires at the end of April.

The importance of monitoring groups

The Security Council imposed sanctions following North Korea’s first nuclear test explosion in 2006. It strengthened them throughout the years in a total of ten resolutions attempting to limit funding and curtail its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The Council passed its most recent resolution on sanctions in December 2017. In May 2022, China and Russia rejected a US-sponsored resolution calling for further penalties in response to a series of intercontinental ballistic missile launches.

The UN Security Council formed a committee to supervise penalties, and its panel of experts’ mandate to probe infractions was renewed for 14 years until March 28.

In its most recent report, released last month, the panel of experts stated that it is examining 58 potential North Korean cyber-attacks between 2017 and 2023 worth nearly $3 billion, with the money being used to help fund the development of weapons of mass devastation.

Russia as a North Korean partner in sanctions evasion 

Russia had never attempted to obstruct the work of the panel of experts, which had been renewed annually by the UN Security Council for 14 years and represented worldwide resistance to North Korea’s increasing nuclear weapons program.

Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s UN representative, told the Council before the vote that Western nations were “attempting to strangle North Korea” and that sanctions were losing their relevance and becoming disconnected from reality in preventing the country’s nuclear weapons proliferation.

With the help of Russia, North Korea is dodging sanctions. The communist regime continues to build nuclear weapons and produce nuclear fissile materials and their critical components, despite imposed restrictions.

North Korea also continues to import refined petroleum products in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.

Moscow’s veto at the Security Council

Moscow’s veto at the Security Council does not lift the sanctions on North Korea, but it does terminate the group in charge of monitoring their implementation and reporting on the violations, such as arms deals between Russia and North Korea that violate UN sanctions. 

It includes the transfer of North Korean ballistic missiles, which Russian troops fired at Ukrainian cities in Putin’s war that has entered its third year, causing destruction of infrastructure and casualties among civilians.

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