The release to UN member states of an interim sanctions committee report on North Korea was blocked by Russia on Thursday, according to the country’s permanent mission to the UN.
The report, prepared by the Panel of Experts on the UN Security Council Resolution 1718 sanctions committee, has generated repeated public opposition from Russia in recent weeks after leaked accounts appeared in the media earlier this month.
The latest move to hold up the report took place in the UN Security Council, which would have to approve its release to member states for review and for sanctions implementation purposes.
“We put on hold the report of the 1718 Committee because we disagree with certain elements of the report of the Expert Panel and of the conduct of business itself,” Russia’s UN envoy Vassily Nebenzia told reporters Thursday.
Nebenzia declined to provide details regarding specifically which elements of the report Russia opposed, however, saying he did not “want to be a source of a leak myself against which I protested.”
Regarding the “conduct of the business” of the report, he expressed concern over “regular leaks of the Committee information to the press” and demanded an investigation into the issue.
But, he said, the investigation “is not going anywhere as the request was not addressed to the Secretariat by the Committee because of objections – not even objections, but the excessive demands – in the request from certain parties,” hinting to reporters that he was referring to the U.S.
Responding to Russia’s block of the report’s release Thursday, UK ambassador to the UN Karen Pierce defended the findings and said they were necessary to publish for member states under their obligation to implement sanctions resolutions on North Korea.
“The overriding point is that we must have that report published,” Pierce said. “It must go to the UN membership. The Council has been very strong on enforcing DPRK sanctions and getting this report out and implemented is the next step in enforcing the sanctions.”
Interim reports are typically released only to member states and not to the wider public, but in this instance Russia is preventing its release even beyond the Security Council.
A UNSC schedule for Thursday showed the 1718 committee would continue consultations that evening, and Pierce suggested talks to resolve issues and get the report published would continue Friday morning in New York as well.
A copy of the 62-page report was obtained by AFP, which reported that it had concluded North Korea “has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs.”
It also detailed ongoing sanctions violations by the DPRK, which it reportedly said “continued to defy Security Council resolutions through a massive increase in illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products, as well as through transfers of coal at sea during 2018.”
Earlier this week, Russia, along with China, also blocked new U.S.-recommended sanctions designations in the UN against Russia-based entities and vessels, entities designated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury a week earlier.
Russia’s UN mission spokesperson Fyodor Strzhizhovsky on Wednesday called the recommendations “unjustified” and “unilaterally applied,” TASS reported.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations
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