The Security Council was poised on Monday to vote on weakened sanctions to punish North Korea for its nuclear and missile programmes after a week of negotiations that pitted the US against China and Russia.
When the Council meet later on Monday evening, all eyes will be on Moscow and Beijing, two veto-wielding members of the Council who have resisted US demands for an oil blockade, personal sanctions against North Korean ruler Kin Jong Un and empowering countries to inspect ships going to and coming from that country.
Britain’s Permanent Representative Matthew Rycroft defended weakening the resolution saying that it was still “robust,” and that it was done to keep “the whole of the Security Council united”.
In a compromise, the original resolution drafted by Washington in its revised form only seeks a cap on oil imports by North Korea, lets Jong Un off the hook from travel restrictions and freeze on resources, drops sanctions on the army and the state airline, and not allow force in searching North Korean shipping.
While China is the patron of North Korea, Russia is the other important trading partner that also hosts a large number of expatriate workers from that country.
US Permanent Representative Nikki Haley called an emergency meeting of the Council last Monday but faced with Chinese and Russian resistance agreed to put off a vote on sanctions till this Monday.
Blunting the original Washington demand for sanctions highlight the powerful influence that Beijing and Moscow wield against the US internationally when US cannot act unilaterally.
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected])