Allies seeking new ways to enforce North Korea sanctions: US envoy

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Washington and allies are looking for new avenues to enforce Security Council sanctions against North Korea, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said on Monday, amid concerns Pyongyang may now be more emboldened to advance its weapons programme.

Russia last month vetoed the annual renewal of a panel of experts that monitor the enforcement of Security Council resolutions against North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

Thomas-Greenfield is in Seoul and will also visit Japan meant to advance bilateral and trilateral cooperation on the sanctions and beyond, US mission to the UN spokesperson Nate Evans said.

Washington, Seoul and Tokyo criticised Russia’s veto and China’s abstention, which experts said would undermine the sanctions enforcement, with a South Korean envoy likening it to “destroying a CCTV to avoid being caught red-handed”.

Meeting with South Korea’s defence minister, Thomas-Greenfield said the end of the panel’s work creates a vacuum in the enforcement of sanctions against Pyongyang and that this could provide an opportunity to further advance its nuclear and missile programmes, the ministry said in a statement.

She said the United States is working on alternative ways to draw up reliable reports on sanctions enforcement and looks forward to cooperation from allies including South Korea, the ministry said.

Russia has said the experts’ work was neither objective nor impartial, and that they had turned into a tool of the West. The panel had worked on monitoring the enforcement of sanctions against the North over the past 15 years.

Russia’s veto came after ties between Moscow and Pyongyang after their leaders met in September. Pyongyang has been accused of supplying arms to Moscow that are being used in its war in Ukraine.