The United States called for the U.N. Security Council to issue a presidential statement condemning North Korea after it launched an ICBM last week. Permanent members China and Russia blocked the proposal Monday. Photo by Office of the North Korean government press service/UPI | License Photo
SEOUL, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- The United States called on the U.N. Security Council to take action against North Korea over its spate of ballistic missile launches while accusing Russia and China of "enabling and emboldening" Pyongyang by blocking attempts to impose pressure.
On Monday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield called for a UNSC presidential statement to hold Pyongyang accountable for its latest missile launch, an ICBM that landed around 130 miles off the coast of Japan and was estimated to have the range to reach the entire United States.
Moscow and Beijing, permanent Security Council members with veto power, have impeded all efforts this year to add new sanctions or formally condemn North Korea.
"For too long, the DPRK has acted with impunity," Thomas-Greenfield said at a UNSC briefing Monday. "It has conducted escalatory and destabilizing ballistic missile launches without fear of a response or reprisal from this council."
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the official name of North Korea.
Thomas-Greenfield said North Korea has fired 63 ballistic missiles this year, including eight ICBM tests, far surpassing its previous annual record of 25 launches. Pyongyang is prohibited from any ballistic missile activity by existing U.N. resolutions.
"This is the 10th time [this year] that we have met without significant actions," Thomas-Greenfield said. "The reason is simple: Two veto-wielding members of the council are enabling and emboldening the DPRK."
"These two members' blatant obstructionism put the northeast Asian region and the entire world at risk," she added, referring to China and Russia.
The United States issued a joint statement with 13 countries, including Britain, France, Japan, South Korea, India and Australia, calling for the UNSC to "take action to limit the DPRK's unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile advancement, especially as it relates to nuclear missile technologies."
"We invite all member states to join us in condemning the DPRK's unlawful ballistic missile launches and call for full implementation of the existing Security Council resolutions," the statement said.
Beijing's envoy to the United Nations deflected the U.S. criticism and said Washington should "take the initiative" to resume dialogue with North Korea and "respond positively to the legitimate concerns of the DPRK."
In remarks to the Security Council, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun called for the United States to "take practical actions to stop military exercises and ease sanctions against the DPRK."
North Korea has frequently criticized joint military drills held by the United States and South Korea, claiming that the exercises are preparations for an invasion.
Moscow also blamed the United States for provoking North Korea into conducting weapons tests.
"It becomes obvious that Pyongyang's missile launches are a consequence of the short-sighted confrontational military activity of the United States around this country," Russia's deputy permanent representative to the U.N. Anna Evstigneeva said.
Earlier Monday, North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui called the ICBM test a "legitimate and just exercise of the right to self-defense against the U.S. grave military threat."
She also criticized U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as "a puppet of the United States" after he issued a statement condemning the North's ICBM launch.
"Recently I was often made to take the U.N. secretary-general for a member of the U.S. White House or its State Department," Choe said in a statement carried by state-run Korean Central News Agency. "I express my strong regret over the fact that the U.N. secretary-general has taken a very deplorable attitude."