By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 (Yonhap) -- The United States on Monday called on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to hold North Korea to account for its recent missile provocations but to no avail due to opposition from two veto-wielding members of the council -- China and Russia.
The U.S.' call came in the first UNSC meeting of the year to be held on North Korea.
"The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the DPRK's February 18 and February 19 launches of three ballistic missiles," U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the Security Council, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"Our repeated failures to respond emboldened the DPRK to conduct these destabilizing and exploratory launches without fear of consequences," the U.S. diplomat added, calling for a UNSC presidential statement condemning the North's latest missile provocations.
North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile on Saturday (Korea time), followed by two short-range ballistic missile launches on Monday.
The latest North Korean missile launches followed an unprecedented 69 ballistic missile tests in 2022, which marked a new record of ballistic missiles fired by North Korea in any given year.
The UNSC held 10 meetings last year to specifically discuss North Korea's missile threats, but all 10 meetings had ended without any outcome due to opposition from China and Russia, both veto power-wielding permanent members of the Security Council.
"The reality is that those who shield the DPRK from the consequences of its exploratory missile tests put the Asian region and entire world at risk of conflict," Thomas-Greenfield declared.
"If two member states continue to prevent this council from carrying out its mandate, we should expect the DPRK to continue to defiantly develop and test these weapons. The council's lack of action is worse than shameful. It is dangerous," she added.
Still, China again opposed taking any action against Pyongyang, while accusing the United States of escalating tension and provoking North Korea.
"The U.S. announced joint military exercises on a higher level and bigger scale, and timely deployment of strategic assets (to the Korean Peninsula)," a Chinese envoy to the United Nations told the Security Council through an interpreter.
"Such moves are highly provocative to the DPRK and aggravate the sense of insecurity. Relevant countries should seriously reflect on the relevant causality," the Chinese diplomat added.
Russia's envoy to the United Nations nearly shared China's view, accusing the U.S. of provoking North Korea.
"We have heard a lot about the missile launch today, but no attention was paid, for example, to the fact that the day before the authorities of the Republic of Korea, the United States announced that they could have staff exercises, which include, according to the mass media, visiting a port with nuclear equipped U.S. submarines," the Russian envoy said, referring to South Korea by its official name.
The Russian diplomat argued that the "unprecedented military maneuvers in the region" by the U.S. are "clearly anti-Pyongyang in nature."
"The DPRK is simply responding to that with missile tests," he said.
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