Explanation of vote by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia after UNSC vote on a draft resolution on DPRK
Russia voted against the US-proposed draft resolution on the DPRK.
We regret that American colleagues ignored repeated clarifications that we made in the course of drafting and at recent UNSC meetings. We said that we would not support such kind of a document. Our calls to transform it into a statement by the President were not heeded.
In principal terms, we said repeatedly that imposition of new sanctions against DPRK is a dead-end road, and emphasized that enhancement of sanctions pressure was a wrong, ineffective and inhumane thing to do. Starting from 2006, many restrictive resolutions have been adopted against Pyongyang. However, practice showed that sanctions-based paradigm turned out unable to guarantee security in the region and settle issues pertaining to nuclear missile non-proliferation. Security problems in the region, that i.a. directly touch upon Russia, cannot be solved by primitive one-dimensional ways with most serious implications for the population.
In the recent year, the situation in the Korean Peninsula only deteriorated. Our Western colleagues are accustomed to blaming North Korean authorities for that. Yet they ignore the fact that Pyongyang’s repeated calls to the US to stop its hostile activities, which would unlock dialogue opportunities, were never taken seriously, whereas US colleagues only kept saying over and over again that more sanctions were needed. Accommodating steps and positive signals coming from Pyongyang in 2018-2019 were constantly called into question. The Council was not able to react to that in a proper manner. As for alternative ways of political and diplomatic settlement, including Chinese-Russian draft humanitarian resolution, those were rejected. Now we are reaping fruit of this short-sighted policy of the West. Unfortunately, we see that capacity for political and diplomatic thinking of the hardliners, led by the United States, who ruined all positive developments around the Korean Peninsula that occurred several years ago, is steadily declining.
Enhanced sanctions pressure on Pyongyang is not only futile, but also dangerous in terms of possible humanitarian implications. The package of sanctions against Pyongyang that was adopted in 2016-2017, affected daily life of ordinary people of North Korea in the first place. Even before the pandemic, there were severe shortages of medications in the country; the economy shrunk; banking and financial limitations in fact cut North Koreans off an opportunity to buy consumer goods. We underscore that it started even before North Korea “shut down” in the face of coronavirus threat in 2020.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 still made it to the DPRK several weeks ago. The epidemiological situation is very dire. We are convinced that it is completely irresponsible to propose new sanctions in a situation when North Koreans are faced with a challenge that, on the contrary, should enable us to consider opportunities for providing assistance to the country. Relevance of Russia and China’s proposal to expand humanitarian exemptions from sanctions has only increased.
It has long become obvious to all those dealing with North Korean agenda, that it makes no sense waiting for Pyongyang to disarm unconditionally when all it is offered in return is a new spiral of sanctions and unsubstantiated promises as “guarantees.” Speaking of creation of new military blocks in the region, such as the alliance of the United States, Great Britain, and Australia (so-called AUKUS), it raises serious doubts (including on the part of Pyongyang) as to benevolent intentions of these states. What’s more, it is counterproductive in terms of dialogue. Recently US President J.Biden went on a tour of that region, during which we also heard some menacing statements addressed to Pyongyang.
In general, we must say that today, pre-eminence of conflict settlement by political and diplomatic methods is paralyzed in the whole world. Preventive diplomacy that many member states praise tirelessly (including the authors of today’s draft resolution), is cast aside once states are concerned that are not recognized as part of the so-called civilized world. It seems our American and other Western colleagues are living through a “crisis of the genre” – they know no response to crises other than sanctions. As for Russia, we have always considered sanctions as a last-ditch measure, that requires thorough elaboration and constant adjustment. To say nothing of unilateral sanctions that, i.a. with regard to the DPRK, make implementation of UNSC resolutions impossible, undermine our capability to produce collective and multilateral response.
Let me stress again that Russia is against any military activity that poses a threat to security of the Korean Peninsula and North-East Asian states. But again, security problems that i.a. directly affect Russia cannot be solved through primitive use of “sanctions bludgeon” that is fraught with serious aftereffects.
We are convinced that the search for mutually acceptable political and diplomatic solutions is the only possible way towards peaceful resolution of the Korean problem and building reliable security mechanisms in North-East Asia. Only equal involvement of all regional stakeholders in the settlement process can effect a positive result, rather than attempts to monopolize this process. This is what should be our main task, which, once fulfilled, will give us an opportunity to normalize the situation in the region. Thereby lack of progress at the political track threatens to evolve in further growth of tension in the Korean Peninsula that unfortunately, we are already witnessing.