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U.S. urges Russia, China to hold North Korea accountable for recent provocations

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State Department Press Secretary Ned Price is answers a question during a daily press briefing at the department in Washington on Nov. 7. [YONHAP]
State Department Press Secretary Ned Price is answers a question during a daily press briefing at the department in Washington on Nov. 7. [YONHAP]

A state department spokesperson called on China and Russia on Monday to hold North Korea accountable for its missile launches in violation of UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions, insisting failure to do so will not be in their interest.

The call from state department press secretary Ned Price came after Moscow and Beijing blocked U.S.-led efforts to punish North Korea for its recent provocations that included the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, along with more than a dozen short and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

“The fact is that we have a slew of sanctions imposed against the DPRK,” Price told a daily press briefing, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“There are a series of UN Security Council resolutions, with costs associated with them and measures associated with them, and we call on all UN member states, but especially members of the Security Council […] to uphold the principles of the UN Charter, the principles of the UN system, the tenants of the international order,” he added.

The U.S. sought to impose additional sanctions on North Korea at a UNSC meeting, held Friday, noting Pyongyang has now launched 59 ballistic missiles this year, each in violation of UNSC resolutions.

The meeting, the ninth of its kind this year to be held on North Korea, ended without an agreement as China and Russia, both permanent members of the council with veto power, objected.

“Every single one of these launches threatens regional, global peace and stability and is a violation of numerous UN Security Council resolutions that were unanimously adopted by the council,” said Price. “So, members, permanent members, especially, of the Security Council, have a special obligation.”

“We will continue to engage with partners at the Security Council and continue to make the point to them both public and private that a DPRK that feels that it can act with impunity, and faces watered-down condemnation from the rest of the international community is not in the interests of China. It’s not in the interests of Russia,” he added.

The state department spokesperson also expressed concerns over what he called North Korea’s “increasingly dangerous and irresponsible rhetoric.”

Pyongyang “even went so far as to describe its recent missile launches and related activities as “practice runs” for the use of tactical nuclear weapons against the ROK against the United States, as well,” said Price.

ROK stands for the Republic of Korea, South Korea’s official name.

Price reiterated that the U.S. continues to remain committed to engaging in “serious and sustained diplomacy” with North Korea, but said it will also continue to seek ways to prevent Pyongyang from advancing its illegal weapons programs.

“We will seek to continue to impose costs on the DPRK for its dangerous and destabilizing behavior, even as we continue to seek serious and sustained diplomacy with the DPRK,” he said.

“We will continue to work closely with our allies to limit the DPRK’s ability to advance its unlawful WMD [weapons of mass destruction] and ballistic missile program that threatens regional security.”