The US is among 14 countries that oppose the recent launch of Pyongyang’s intercontinental ballistic missile as a ‘dangerous escalation’.
The divided United Nations Security Council has condemned North Korea’s recent launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile but refrained from commenting on criticism from China and Russia, diplomats said.
The United States, Britain, France and India were among the 14 countries “strongly opposed” to Friday’s implementation. The ship landed about 200km (125 miles) off the coast of Japan and was reportedly bound for the US mainland.
“This represents a major escalation and poses a serious threat to international peace and security,” the countries said in a joint statement on Monday after a Security Council meeting.
They encouraged council to slow the progress of North Korea’s weapons programs.
North Korea has staged an unprecedented series of protests this year, drawing criticism and concern from neighboring countries and Washington.
But Pyongyang has long defended its military buildup as a legitimate defense against what it calls a decades-long threat from the US and its South Korean allies. Friday’s launch came shortly after the country warned of “dangerous military responses” in Washington.
“Kim Jong Un announced that if the enemy continues to threaten, … our party and government will take action with nuclear weapons and all-out confrontation,” said Pyongyang’s head of the Korea News Agency.
North Korea’s foreign minister on Monday criticized UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for aligning with Washington and failing to maintain prejudice and indifference. Choe Son Hui said it is Pyongyang’s right to develop self-defense weapons.
For months, the US has been pushing the Security Council to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea as it conducts more missile tests. The agency has issued nearly a dozen resolutions imposing sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear and weapons activities since 2006.
A US official said this month that Washington believes China and Russia have the ability to force North Korea to stop testing nuclear weapons, and US President Joe Biden told his Chinese counterpart last week that Beijing was responsible for the tests.
On Monday, China’s UN ambassador, Zhang Jun, said Beijing was “worried” about the “escalation and escalation of tensions” on the Korean Peninsula, but said the Security Council should help reduce tensions and not always criticize or pressure Pyongyang.
He said the U.S. must take action and put in place the right mindset to address North Korea’s “legitimate concerns.”
“All parties should be calm, restrained, act and speak carefully, and avoid anything that can cause conflict and create misunderstandings so that things don’t fall into trouble,” Zhang said.
Russia’s deputy UN ambassador, Anna Evstigneeva, accused the US of trying to force North Korea to destroy its nuclear weapons despite international pressure and said that Washington’s weapons tests are its allies.
For her part, the US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said it was important for the 15 members of the Security Council to respond with one voice, accusing Beijing and Moscow of “encouraging” Pyongyang by preventing action.
“The blockade of the two members will put the region of Northeast Asia and the whole world at risk,” he said.
Thomas-Greenfield also said that the US is preparing to submit a presidential statement to the Security Council to hold North Korea “accountable for its dangerous and disturbing statements”.
A spokesman for the US mission to the UN said that the President’s proposal will be shared with the Security Council soon and negotiations will follow.