Russia and China argue the U.S. should join them in rewarding North Korea for its recent behavior, instead of calling for continued sanctions pressure.
UNITED NATIONS – Deep divisions between the U.S., China and Russia over how to handle North Korea were on full display at the U.N. Security Council on Thursday morning, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continued to push for maximum pressure against the Kim Jong Un regime.
“We must not forget what’s brought us this far: the historic international pressure campaign that this council has made possible through the sanctions that it imposed. Until the final denuclearization of the DPRK is achieved and fully verified, it is our solemn collective responsibility to fully implement all UN Security Council resolutions pertaining to North Korea.”
American officials have spent months accusing China and Russia of violating U.N. sanctions on North Korea to no avail. The U.S. now faces criticism from its former diplomatic partners, accused of failing to sufficiently reward Kim for suspending nuclear and missile tests.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov:
“I would just like to remind you that any negotiations are a two-way street. Steps by the DPRK towards gradual disarmament should be followed by easing of sanctions. There should be reaction towards every action.”
China’s Foreign Minister had a similar message, saying the Security Council should push North Korea to denuclearize through economic and political incentives, not coercion.
Aware that two of its neighbors now want to ease, not intensify, sanctions, North Korea appears to have shifted its approach to nuclear talks, refusing to take more steps to denuclearize unless the U.S. offers concessions at the same time.
Pompeo flatly ruled that out, but as he heads to North Korea next month to ready a second meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un, the pressure on the U.S. to make a deal, even if it means blinking first, is only more likely to increase.