China and Russia have called for relaxation of sanctions against North Korea in view of positive developments in Pyongyang this year. Their opposition came during a session of the United Nations Security Council on Thursday chaired by United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Pompeo urged the members of the Security Council to set an example by enforcing sanctions on North Korea, Reuters reported. “Enforcement of Security Council sanctions must continue vigorously and without fail until we realise the fully, final, verified denuclearisation,” Pompeo told the 15-member council.
The Security Council has unanimously boosted sanctions on North Korea since 2006 against its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. After the meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore in June, Pyongyang had promised to give up its nuclear weapons programme.
Not much progress has been made since then, however. In August, North Korea criticised the US for urging other countries to maintain the sanctions. A month before that, Pompeo had said North Korea was continuing to produce fuel for nuclear bombs despite its pledge to denuclearise.
“Until the final denuclearisation of the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] is achieved and fully verified, it is our solemn collective responsibility to fully implement all UN Security Council resolutions pertaining to North Korea,” Pompeo told the council.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said there are provisions in the UNSC resolutions to modify the sanctions if North Korea complies. “China believes that the Security Council may consider invoking in due course this provision in order to encourage [North Korea] and other relevant parties to move denuclearisation further ahead,” Wang Yi said, according to AP.
Agreeing with the Chinese diplomat, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he opposed further sanctions against Pyongyang, The Telegraph reported. “Further increase of sanctions goes beyond cutting off financing of banned missile and nuclear programmes, and is in fact a threat to North Korean citizens and would bring extreme socio-economic and humanitarian suffering,” Lavrov said.
Pompeo is expected to visit North Korea in October to prepare for a second summit between Kim and Trump.