Russia shuts down UN monitoring body monitoring sanctions on North Korea

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Earlier in 2023, Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) met with North Korean President Kim Jong Un.

Russia has shut down a UN panel of experts that has been monitoring sanctions against North Korea for years.

The panel said last week it was investigating reports that Russia had violated the rules by buying weapons such as North Korean ballistic missiles for use in Ukraine.

Since 2006, the UN Security Council has imposed a series of sanctions on Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons program.

Those restrictions are still in place – but the panel of experts set up to monitor breaches will now be disbanded.

In Thursday's Security Council vote, Russia used its veto power as a permanent member to block the renewal, while 13 of the other 14 member states voted against it. China, Pyongyang's closest ally, abstained.

Russia's ban prompted a wave of condemnation from the US, UK, South Korea and other Western allies and came after a year of high-level public meetings between the leaders of Moscow and Pyongyang.

For 14 years the UN This is the first time Russia has blocked the group, which is updated annually by the Security Council.

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on social media that Russia's veto was tantamount to “accusing” North Korea of ​​using weapons in the war.

The U.S., U.K. and France told the council that Russia was mulling monitoring as it began reporting on Moscow's own rule violations, particularly its purchases of weapons from North Korea for battlefields in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, South Korea's representative at the UN criticized Russia's “blind selfishness” and said the sanctions were no justification to “disband the guardians” of the regime.

“This is comparable to destroying a CCTV to avoid being caught red-handed,” Ambassador Hwang Joon-kook said.

Russia has consistently denied using North Korean weapons and its representative at the UN again rejected the accusations on Thursday.

Vasiliy Nebenzia also argued that the panel of experts had no added value.

“The committee continues to focus on trivial matters that are irrelevant to the problems facing the peninsula,” Mr Nebenzia said, adding that the sanctions imposed a “huge burden” on the North Korean people.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un showed his country's missiles to Russia's defense minister last year.

Since 2019, Russia and China have tried to persuade the Security Council to ease sanctions.

The Security Council imposed sanctions in response to North Korea's nuclear weapons test in 2006, and passed 10 resolutions strengthening them as Pyongyang's nuclear activities continued.

However, Kim Jong Un's regime has largely ignored sanctions despite their impact on the economy. The North Korean leader is rapidly pursuing nuclear weapons development and has pursued the most aggressive and dangerous military strategy in recent years.

UN experts say North Korea continues to violate sanctions by conducting missile tests and developing nuclear weapons. The regime launched a spy satellite this year — with technology provided by Russia.

Violations of sanctions, the importation of refined petroleum products and the sending of workers abroad continue, and a recent report by a UN panel detailed a campaign of cyberattacks.

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