Split in UN over North Korea sanctions - GulfToday

Split in UN over North Korea sanctions

Kim Jong Un

Kim Jong Un

Perhaps it was to be expected. The United States should not have expected Russia and China to vote for fresh sanctions against North Korea over recent missile tests, with the expectation that Pyongyang was readying for a nuclear test. With the US waging an indirect war in Ukraine against Russia and marshalling a counter-China formation in the Indo-Pacific, it was inevitable that both Moscow and Beijing did not want to be seen voting with the US though they have done so since 2006 when the United Nations Security Council first imposed sanctions against North Korea. Russia and China too understood the dangers of North Korea as a nuclear weapon state. But on Thursday, when the US moved a fresh resolution of sanctions, Russia and China declined to join in. The two countries used their veto power as Permanent Members of the Security Council to reject a move for fresh sanctions against Pyongyang. It was generally assumed that whatever their differences and rivalries, America, Russia, and China had some common agreements when it came to the question of international peace and global security, and the issue of nuclear North Korea was one of them. The Thursday split at the Security Council showed that the consensus has broken down.

Artyom Lukin of Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostock said, “Even though Washington and Moscow have a real shared interest in the denuclearisation of North Korea, it has now become extremely difficult, if not impossible, for them to collaborate.” Beijing-based security scholar Zhao Tong of the Carnegie Endowment said, “Beijing could have abstained, but it used the veto to publicly signal its growing disagreement with and resentment toward Washington. Everyone knew that the veto would send a wrong and dangerous message to North Korea, but Russia and China believe they face higher stakes in pushing back against their perceived hostility from Western countries.” Jenny Town, director of the US-based 38 North programme which monitors North Korea admitted that the American move came at a wrong time. He said, “I think it was a big mistake for the US to push for what was sure to fail rather than showing unified opposition to North Korea’s actions.”

The war in Ukraine against Russia and the strategic moves in the Indo-Pacific show that America considers a new Cold War based on ideological grounds, pitting democracies against autocracies to be a necessary development to keep America as the leader of the democratic world. Ever since the end of the old Cold War in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union, America for a while performed the role of a sole superpower, but with the emergence of China as a global economic power, the importance of America in world politics waned. And American economy too seemed to have a second place though it remains the largest economy by size in the world, with China occupying the position of a distant second. The American desire to play the lead role in global affairs might lead to more conflict than less.

Americans are likely to argue that it is because America abandoned its leadership position, that Russia had dared to invade Ukraine, and that it is necessary for America to reassert its military and economic role. But the argument is weak after the American withdrawal from Afghanistan and the return of Taliban to power. American prestige suffered a severe blow in the meek and ignominious withdrawal from Afghanistan last August. The efforts that President Joe Biden is making to regain American influence in the world seem to be going wrong. The war in Ukraine shows no signs of ending. And the Indo-Pacific strategy to contain China does not seem to deter China.

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