Russia Blocks UN Condemnation of North Korea

Russia on Thursday objected to a United Nations Security Council condemnation of North Korea’s latest rocket launch, Reuters reported.

The reason for Russia’s objection, diplomats said, was the fact the U.S.-drafted statement labeled the rocket that was tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and Moscow disagrees.

Security Council statements have to be agreed upon by all 15 members. The Russian mission to the United Nations said it had proposed amendments to the U.S. draft. It was not immediately clear if the United States would continue to negotiate with Russia in an effort to reach a council consensus on a statement.

U.S. officials confirmed earlier this week that North Korea successfully test-launched an ICBM for the first time, noting the ballistic missile flew longer than any North Korean missile test conducted by the regime to date.

While North Korea had declared in the past that it could test-launch an ICBM “at any time” from any location set by its leader, Kim Jong-Un, it was impossible to determine whether any of its tests had been of an ICBM until this week.

North Korea boasted on Tuesday night that it had conducted a test of a newly developed ICBM that can carry a large and heavy nuclear warhead.

Russia’s resistance to defining Pyongyang’s missile launch as long-range does not augur well for Washington’s planned push to impose new UN sanctions on North Korea, noted Reuters.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Wednesday that she plans to propose new measures in coming days.

Haley also warned that the U.S. is prepared to defend itself from the North Korean threat, saying, “One of our capabilities lies with our considerable military forces. We will use them if we must, but we prefer not to have to go in that direction.”

Moscow has said it believes North Korea fired an intermediate range ballistic missile on Tuesday, while China has not identified the rocket launched.

“The rationale is that based on our (Ministry of Defense’s) assessment we cannot confirm that the missile can be classified as an ICBM,” Russia’s UN mission said in an email to its Security Council colleagues.

“Therefore we are not in a position to agree to this classification on behalf of the whole council since there is no consensus on this issue,” the email said, according to Reuters.

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