Haley Slams Russia for ‘Cheating’ on North Korea Sanctions

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. envoy to the United Nations accused Russia of “actively working to undermine” international sanctions against North Korea as pressure rises on the Trump administration three months after the president met Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

“Why after voting for sanctions 11 different times is Russia backing away from them? We know the answer. Its because Russia has been cheating. And now they’ve been caught,” Ambassador Nikki Haley said Monday in an emergency session of the Security Council she called late last week.

The U.S. says its effort to keep pressure on North Korea’s economy through sanctions approved by the Security Council is being undermined by Russia, who the Americans accuse of helping Kim’s regime skirt the restrictions. The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that the original draft of a confidential new UN report found Pyongyang has been able to circumvent restrictions, rendering “the latest UN sanctions ineffective.”

While the U.S. has previously accused both China and Russia of violating the sanctions, Haley aimed her criticism Monday squarely at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government. She said in a statement last week that Russia successfully pressured the supposedly independent panel to water down the report.

“Russia can’t be allowed to edit and obstruct independent UN reports on North Korea sanctions just because they don’t like what they say,” Haley said then. “The full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions remains mandatory for all Member States – including Russia.”

Russia’s UN envoy, Vassily Nebenzia, rejected Haley’s “emotional statement” against his country, saying North Korea has been asked to accept “empty promises” in return for its efforts on denuclearization. Referring to the UN report, Nebenzia said the authors were “hostages to the vision of Washington.”

“The negotiating process is a two-way street,” Nebenzia said. “It is impossible to come to an agreement if you offer nothing in return for you demands. Sanctions cannot replace diplomacy.”

The Trump administration has expressed concern that efforts to maintain maximum pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear capabilities are faltering as talks over the denuclearization of North Korea stall. South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in will try to inject new life into the diplomatic talks when he meets Kim in Pyongyang on Tuesday for a summit that will mark the first time a South Korean leader visits its northern neighbor in more than a decade.

U.S.-North Korean talks on denuclearization haven’t advanced significantly since the historic meeting in June between President Donald Trump and Kim.

The U.S. has shown ambivalence toward China’s role on North Korea, sometimes praising the government in Beijing and sometimes criticizing it even as Trump engages in a trade fight with China.

A White House statement issued last month and tweeted by Trump said “China is providing North Korea with considerable aid, including money, fuel, fertilizer and various other commodities. This is not helpful!”

In Monday’s debate, China’s Ambassador Ma Zhaoxu said his country has been a positive force in implementing sanctions and its seriousness of purpose is obvious.

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