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Russian veto halts UN monitoring of North Korea nuclear sanctions

Russia this week vetoed the annual renewal of a panel of experts tasked with monitoring the enforcement of U.N. sanctions against North Korea for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Thirteen United Nations Security Council members voted in favor of extending the panel’s mandate for an additional year, while China abstained.

North Korea has been under sanctions for its ballistic missile and nuclear programs since 2006, and the vote does not affect the sanctions themselves.

The panel, made up of independent experts, has been conducting oversight for 15 years, reporting twice a year to the Security Council. Experts also provide recommendations on how to better implement measures.

Russia’s veto came amid allegations that North Korea has transferred weapons to Russia to use in its invasion of Ukraine. Both Russia and North Korea have denied the claims.

South Korea’s U.N. Ambassador Joonkook Hwang slammed the outcome of the vote.

“This is outrageous and makes no sense at all, given the continued and accelerated advancement of the North Korean nuclear and missile programs,” he said. “Pyongyang has been openly denouncing the authority of the Security Council and pursuing an increasingly dangerous and aggressive nuclear policy, in particular targeting the Republic of Korea.”

The panel’s current mandate expires April 30. The group’s recent report, released this March, looked at alleged cyberattacks by North Korea to further bolster its nuclear weapons program.

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia was not sold on the panel’s independence.

“Its work is increasingly being reduced to playing into the hands of Western approaches, reprinting biased information and analyzing newspaper headlines and poor quality photos,” Nebenzia said to the Security Council before the vote Thursday, according to Reuters.

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