(ATTN: UPDATES with reports of trilateral call between senior diplomats of South Korea, Japan, U.S. in last 3 paras)
By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 (Yonhap) -- The United States called on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to take action against North Korea's recent missile provocations Monday, arguing failure to do so due to opposition from China and Russia has allowed Pyongyang to continue its provocative actions.
China again refused to hold Pyongyang accountable for its provocations in the 10th UNSC meeting of the year held on North Korea.
"For too long, the DPRK has acted with impunity. It has conducted escalatory and destabilizing ballistic missile launches without fear of a response or reprisal from this council," U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the UNSC meeting held in New York, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"This is the 10th time that we have met without significant actions. The reason is simple: two veto-wielding members of the council are enabling and emboldening the DPRK," she added, referring to China and Russia.
Beijing and Moscow, both veto power-wielding members of the UNSC, had blocked U.S.-led efforts to impose fresh sanctions on North Korea in nine previous UNSC meetings held this year.
Monday's meeting came after North Korea test fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Friday (Seoul time), marking its eighth ICBM test this year.
Thomas-Greenfield noted the North has launched an "unprecedented 63 ballistic missiles in 2022," which she said is two and a half times higher than the North's previous annual record of 25.
"I encourage and strongly encourage all of my colleagues in this council to join us in strongly condemning the DPRK and taking actions to curb the DPRK's unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile advancements," the U.S. diplomat told the council meeting.
She also reaffirmed the U.S.' commitment to engage North Korea in serious and sustained diplomacy without preconditions, but said Pyongyang continues to remain unresponsive.
China quickly dismissed the U.S. call to take action, and instead insisted the U.S. should first show sincerity to North Korea.
"The U.S. should take the initiative, show sincerity, put forward realistic and physical proposals, respond positively to the legitimate concerns of the DPRK and turn the dialogue from a formality into a reality as soon as possible," Chinese Ambassador to the U.N. Zhang Jun said through an interpreter.
The Chinese envoy also called on the U.S. to take practical actions in "stopping military exercises and easing sanctions against DPRK."
Pyongyang earlier claimed its recent missile tests had been provoked by joint military exercises of the U.S. and South Korea.
"All parties should remain calm, exercise restraint, act and speak with caution and avoid any actions that may escalate tension," Zhang told the council meeting through his interpreter.
Russia again joined forces with China, accusing the U.S. of instigating the ongoing tension in Northeast Asia.
"In our opinion, the reason for what is happening is clear: Washington's desire to force Pyongyang into unilateral disarmament by implementing sanctions and exerting force," Russia's deputy permanent representative to the U.N. Anna Evstigneeva said through an interpreter.
"It is obvious that Pyongyang's missile launches are the results of the short-sighted confrontational military activity of the United States being carried out around the DPRK, which harms both its partners in the region and the situation in Northeast Asia as a whole," she added.
After the UNSC failed to take any action, the state department said Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman reiterated the need for international action to rein in North Korea's advancing missile capabilities in a three-way call with her South Korean and Japanese counterparts, First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong and Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Mori, respectively.
"The deputy secretary reaffirmed the ironclad U.S. commitments to the defense of the ROK and Japan, and stressed the need for the international community to stand together in holding the DPRK accountable for its continued and brazen violations of multiple UN Security Council resolutions," Price said in a press release, referring to South Korea by its official name, the Republic of Korea.
"Deputy Secretary Sherman and Vice Ministers Cho and Mori reaffirmed the importance of trilateral cooperation among the United States, the ROK, and Japan in responding to the DPRK's unlawful and increasingly dangerous behavior," the department spokesperson added.