China and Russia delayed a U.S. bid to impose U.N. sanctions on five North Koreans on Thursday, diplomats said, as Pyongyang suggested it may resume tests of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
The move by China and Russia came ahead of a closed-door U.N. Security Council meeting on North Korea later on Thursday — the second in two weeks — after Pyongyang fired tactical guided missiles on Monday.
“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,” seven council members – the United States, Albania, Brazil, France, Ireland, the United Arab Emirates, Britain – and Japan said in a joint statement at the United Nations.
The test on Monday as North Korea’s fourth in 2022, with two previous launches involving “hypersonic missiles” capable of high speed and maneuvering after liftoff, and another test using a pair of short-range missiles fired from train cars.
The United States last week imposed unilateral sanctions over the missile launches. It blacklisted six North Koreans, one Russian and a Russian firm, accusing them of procuring goods for the programs from Russia and China.
It then proposed five of those individuals also be subjected to a U.N. travel ban and asset freeze. The request had to be agreed by consensus by the Security Council’s 15-member North Korea sanctions committee.
China and Russia, however, placed a “hold” on the U.S. proposal on Thursday, which puts it in limbo. China told council colleagues it needed more time to study the sanctions proposal, while Russia said more evidence was needed to back the U.S. request, diplomats said, according to Reuters.