Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNGA meeting regarding the use of veto in the Security Council on the DPRK



On 28 March, Russia voted no in the Security Council against the US-proposed draft resolution renewing the mandate of the Panel of Experts of the DPRK Sanctions Committee.

Apparently, some countries are expecting us to make excuses about this principled step today and must have already prepared yet another bunch of anti-Russian remarks. I must disappoint them, because in fact they have become hostages to their own illusions that extending the mandate of experts who compromised themselves with odious conclusions would contribute in any way to normalizing the situation on and around the Korean Peninsula.

The UNSC discussion of this issue exactly two weeks ago was quite revealing. At that time, before the vote, Western members on the Council emphasized the importance of extending the Panel in order to maintain control over non-proliferation of nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula. They emphasized the importance of obtaining independent expert assessments. They emphasized the importance of restoring trust and political dialogue between the North and the South.

But just ten minutes later, right after we used our veto, it started to look like a completely different meeting. The fate of the Korean Peninsula was no longer a concern. Instead, the delegates most interested in preserving the Panel began to lament the missed opportunity to carry out investigations against Russia with pre-arranged outcomes. This is a telling demonstration of the true intentions of those who supported the draft resolution.

I will not list all the out-of-touch aspects that the Panel of Experts, primarily its Western members, has dealt with in recent years. Many of them had very little to do with the causes of escalation in the region. The Panel reduced its work to playing along with Western approaches, replicating biased information, analyzing newspaper headlines and using low-quality satellite imagery. Such a group simply had neither the resources nor the will to carry out a substantive analysis of the accumulated problems.

Against that background, the situation on the Peninsula continues to deteriorate rapidly. We are all witnessing unprecedented pressure by Washington-led coalition on the unwanted legitimate authorities in Pyongyang. This policy includes saber rattling, harsh unilateral restrictions, aggressive propaganda and incessant demonization. Obviously, all these measures not only delay prospects for a settlement in the region, but also call into question its very possibility in the future.

Active militarization of the Peninsula with the direct participation of Washington and other NATO members is record-breaking. Some of those states are tens of thousands miles away from the DPRK, and we would like to hear how they justify their involvement in military drills on the other side of the world.

Western delegations will probably talk today about the provocative nature of Pyongyang's ballistic activity. However, they will carefully ignore the fact that on April 2, the United States, Japan, and South Korea conducted another test of American B-52H strategic bomber with the participation of the latest generation of fighters of the three countries. Besides, in March there was another NATO exercise, Freedom Shield, which conducted 48 troop maneuvers. This is twice as many as during a similar training campaign last year. At the same time, no one even conceals that some training exercises include rehearsals for the physical annihilation of the DPRK leadership. What a nice illustration of the "outstretched hand" that the US delegation keeps talking about.

My delegation has repeatedly pointed out that over the past years sanctions have not contributed to the achievement of the goals set by the international community and have not led to the normalization of the situation on the Korean Peninsula. At regular meetings of the Security Council, most of its members fully recognize this.

At the same time, the sanctions have had acute humanitarian implications that have placed a heavy burden on the North Korean population. As a result of the erosion of trust between the UN and Pyongyang, there is no presence of UN bodies on the ground to address this important issue. A new Resident Coordinator in the DPRK has recently been appointed, but the prospects of establishing full-fledged operation of this Office are almost non-existent.

In view of these factors, for several years we have been calling to review the restrictions and adapt them to the new conditions.

A good opportunity was missed in late 2017 - early 2018 when Pyongyang declared a moratorium on intercontinental missile launches and nuclear tests and agreed to a direct dialogue on settlement with the US President. The Security Council failed to respond to that move at the time. Russia and China also put forward a humanitarian draft resolution and other initiatives. However, every time our attempts would flounder on absolute unwillingness of Western countries to move away from their logic of "strangling" Pyongyang by any means. And what’s important, they have a unique tool to block any efforts to change this paradigm.

DPRK’s sanctions is the only indefinite country-specific sanctions regime. Basic adjustment mechanisms do not work, and there are no procedures for well-grounded fair delisting. All other restrictive measures against countries have ultimate realistic goals and are subject to regular review. They are subject to initiatives to prevent unfair punishment, such as the Swiss ombudsman procedure. But this does not apply to the DPRK. Pyongyang is denied everything.

All the words of Western countries about their interest in dialogue on sanctions assessment are empty rhetoric. We have repeatedly received confirmations of this. In reality everything boils down to just a new batch of criticism and proposals to upscale sanctions or, at the very least, leave everything as is.

The current situation confirms this. During the negotiations on the draft resolution on the mandate of the Panel of Experts, we made a proposal to bring the oppressing sanctions regime against the DPRK in line with practices that are in effect against other countries and to transfer the restrictions on annual basis. In that case, the activities of the Panel of Experts would receive a new and constructive sense, because then the PoE could offer realistic ideas for updating UNSC restrictions instead of engaging in endless rhetorical exchanges. This could also encourage Pyongyang to a dialogue.

However, our colleagues on the Council rejected our proposal, thereby signaling that their objectives with regard to the DPRK remain unchanged. It became clear that they did not want any truly independent investigations or serious discussions. The Western countries were simply afraid of losing the tool that they had so effectively used for so many years for their self-serving national purposes.


Russia remains committed to its obligations under international law. For those who are shedding crocodile tears over the 1718 Committee's Panel of Experts, I should like to say that the 1718 Sanctions Committee continues to operate. However, we cannot accept the idea of maintaining the status quo with regard to the North Korean file.

We hope that in the future, wisdom and interest in normalizing the situation on the Korean Peninsula will prevail with UNSC members. Maintaining draconian restrictions indefinitely is doomed to failure and does not meet the requirements of today. At this point, a serious thinking process on updating DPRK’s sanctions regime is needed more than ever.

As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, Russia is guided by special responsibility for the maintenance of peace and stability. That is why, though we do not see a sensible approach on the part of our Western countries at this point, we are ready to make another attempt at finding a way out for the Panel of Experts. In this connection, we will soon submit to the Security Council a draft resolution that would provide for a one-year renewal of the PoE mandate and firmly stipulate the imperative for the Security Council to take a decision on updating the parameters of the DPRK sanctions regime. This may be the Council's last opportunity to reach a balanced decision. We urge not to miss it.

Thank you.

Video of the statement