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U.S. calls urgent U.N. Security Council meeting on North Korea sanctions violations

Amb. Nikki Haley said Russia is pressuring U.N. experts to alter an independent report implicating Russian actors in violations of North Korea sanctions.
by Abigail Williams /

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The United States has called for an “urgent” meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Monday to address recent efforts by “some member['s]” to “undermine and obstruct” United Nations sanctions against North Korea.

The announcement from the U.S. Mission to the U.N. late Friday follows accusations by Amb. Nikki Haley that Russia is pressuring U.N. experts to alter an independent report implicating Russian actors in violations of North Korea sanctions.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday Russia has “actively attempted to undermine” the U.N. Security Council resolutions on North Korea and called for the experts to release the original report.

Image: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley chairs a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on maintenance of international peace and security at U.N. headquarters in New York
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley chairs a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on maintenance of international peace and security at U.N. headquarters in New York, on Sept. 10, 2018.Mike Segar / Reuters file

“The United States is as committed as ever to continuing to enforce those U.N. Security Council resolutions,” Pompeo told reporters. “We believe they are central to President Trump’s efforts to convince Chairman Kim that full, final denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is necessary.”

This is just the latest in a series of sanctions violations acknowledged by the Trump administration since President Donald Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a summit in Singapore in June. And despite the U.S. pushing international partners to maintain pressure on North Korea to denuclearize, full support from critical allies, Russia and China, has waned.

From coal shipments to revived construction projects to planes ferrying Chinese tourists to Pyongyang, China has reopened the door to both legal and illegal trade with the North, throwing the North Korean government a vital lifeline while derailing U.S. diplomacy.

An August U.N. report revealed Pyongyang has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs and is still violating sanctions by transferring coal at sea.

And the newest intelligence shows Kim's regime has escalated efforts to conceal its nuclear activity in the months since the summit in Singapore, three senior U.S. officials tell NBC News.

At a joint press conference in July, Pompeo and Haley acknowledged that North Korea was illegally smuggling refined petroleum products into the country beyond the 500,000 barrel cap set by the U.N. These sanctions violations occurred 89 times in the first five months of 2018, mostly through ship-to-ship transfers.

The U.S. attempted to cut off all additional refined petroleum shipments to North Korea at the time but the measure was blocked by Russia and China, which have veto power in the U.N. Security Council.

“The problem that we are encountering is that some of our friends have decided that they want to go around the rules,” Haley said. “Now for China and Russia to block it, what are they telling us? Are they telling us that they want to continue supplying this oil?”

Now the United States will address the sanctions violations at the Security Council on Monday.

“Russia can’t be allowed to edit and obstruct independent U.N. reports on North Korea sanctions just because they don’t like what they say. Period,” Haley said Friday. “We’re disappointed in the panel for caving to Russian pressure and making changes to what should be an independent report.”

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