China and Russia have blocked efforts by Washington to impose U.N. sanctions on five North Koreans, diplomats said Thursday, as Pyongyang seeks to “overpower” the U.S.’ “hostile moves” in a “long-term confrontation.”
The news follows a closed-door U.N. Security Council meeting on North Korea on Thursday—the second in two weeks—following Pyongyang’s fourth missile launch this month, which involved two tactical guided missiles.
Chinese diplomats at the U.N. Security Council said that they needed more time to review the sanctions, according to envoys, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, while Russian officials said that more evidence was needed to support the U.S. proposal.
Earlier the U.S. ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, issued a joint statement on behalf of eight countries—the United States, Albania, Brazil, France, Ireland, Japan, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom–that urged the Security Council to be unified in condemning Pyongyang’s “unlawful behavior.”
“These launches demonstrate the regime’s determination to pursue weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs at all costs, including at the expense of its own people,” the eight nations said.
They called on the council committee to support the U.N. sanctions against those who aid Pyongyang’s weapons programmes, warning that failing to do so would be tantamount to giving Pyongyang “a blank check.”
North Korea said it would seek to immediately develop “more powerful physical means” to overpower the “intensifying hostile moves of the United States,” state media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Thursday.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un convened a Politburo meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party on Wednesday, during which the members “unanimously admitted that the DPRK must be more fully ready for a long-term confrontation with the U.S. imperialism.” North Korea’s official name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
The authoritarian regime assessed “the U.S. hostile policy and military threat have reached the line of danger that can no longer be overlooked,” the report claims.
KCNA stated that the Politburo committee has therefore ordered a reconsideration of confidence-building measures and examining “resuming all actions which had been temporarily suspended.”
Earlier, Pyongyang claimed that another two missile tests it performed on Jan. 5 and Jan. 11 were “hypersonic” missiles. Those tests prompted the United States to impose sanctions on six North Koreans, one Russian, and a Russian firm it said were responsible for procuring goods for North Korea’s weapons programs from Russia and China.
It then proposed that five of those people be subjected to a U.N. travel ban and asset freeze, which would need to be approved by the Security Council’s 15-member North Korea sanctions committee.
U.S. special envoy for North Korea on Monday held trilateral talks with Japan and South Korea to discuss countermeasures to Pyongyang’s “series” of ballistic missile launches. The U.S. said its offer for open dialogue with North Korea was “without preconditions.”
Reuters contributed to this report.