On Tuesday, all 15 members of the United Nations Security Council met to discuss North Korea’s nuclear program and recent missile tests. The tests were a clear violation of U.N. guidelines. Yet Council diplomats disagreed on the need for an official statement condemning the tests. Therefore, the Council took no action. President Biden and his advisors are finalizing their approach to the Asian nation.
Last week, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea in defiance of U.N. resolutions banning such launches. Some experts say the launches, the first of their kind in a year, were meant to pressure the Biden administration.
The March 21 NK missile firings were the first since U.S. President Joe Biden took office. Last Friday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution to renew the mandate of U.N. experts. That mandate involved sanctions (penalties) against North Korea. Hours earlier, council members also discussed NK’s latest test firings at a sanctions committee meeting.
Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador Dmitry Polyansky told a group of reporters “it’s still a time of assessment” of the recent missile tests.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Russia and China both brought up their December 2019 joint resolution. That resolution proposed ending sanctions on North Korean exports such as textiles, seafood, and statues, “with the intent of enhancing the livelihood of the civilian population.” But with the recent missile launches, broad support for that Russia-China proposal seems unlikely.
On Monday, North Korea accused the United Nations of a “double standard” over its reaction to the launches and warned of serious consequences. Senior NK official Kim Yo Jong threatened, “If [the United States] wants to sleep in peace for [the] coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink” about the tests. Kim Yo Jong is Kim Jong Un’s sister.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the United States, Japan, and South Korea are united in dealing with the challenges posed by North Korea. He says the recent missile tests confirm the three nations’ resolve “to approach North Korea from a position of strength in order to diminish the threat that it poses to the region and beyond.”
U.N. officials have hit North Korea with increasingly tough sanctions since its first nuclear test in 2006. The latest sanctions in 2017 responded to NK’s first successful tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles—those capable of reaching the United States.
Current sanctions against North Korea ban key exports including coal and the import of an estimated 90 percent of refined oil products—including diesel and kerosene, which are key to its economy. U.N. experts monitoring the sanctions have reported widespread violations by North Korea.
U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield says the Biden administration is looking at “additional actions” that the United Nations might take to respond to the latest tests.
International diplomacy is a delicate balance of meekness and strength. How would you approach negotiations with another nation? What is the biblical approach to difficult discussions?
(People watch a TV showing an image of North Korea’s new guided missile during a news program at the Suseo Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, on Friday, March 26, 2021. AP/Ahn Young-joon)