U.S. worries Russia could step up North
Korea support to fill China void
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[June 28, 2017]
By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - As the United
States pressures China to enforce United Nations sanctions on its ally
North Korea, Washington is concerned that Russia could provide support
to Pyongyang and fill any vacuum left by Beijing, U.S. Ambassador to the
United Nations Nikki Haley said on Tuesday.
"I'm concerned that Russia may backfill North Korea," Haley told U.S.
lawmakers in Washington. "We don't have proof of that, but we are
watching that carefully."
While Washington has urged countries to downgrade ties with Pyongyang
over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, a cross-border ferry
service was launched in May between North Korea and neighboring Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the world should talk to,
rather than threaten, North Korea.
"We just need to keep the pressure on China, we need to keep our eyes on
Russia, and we need to continue to let the North Korea regime know we
are not looking for regime change ... we just want them to stop the
nuclear activity," Haley said.
The U.N. Security Council first imposed sanctions on North Korea in 2006
over its ballistic missile and nuclear programs and has ratcheted up the
measures in response to five nuclear tests and two long-range missile
launches. The government in Pyongyang is threatening a sixth nuclear
The Trump administration has been pressing China aggressively to rein in
its reclusive neighbor, warning that all options are on the table if
Pyongyang persists with its nuclear and missile development programs.
Beijing has repeatedly said its influence on North Korea is limited and
that it is doing all it can, but U.S. President Donald Trump last week
said China's efforts had failed.
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U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley testifies to the
House Appropriations State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs
Subcommittee on the budget for the U.N. in Washington, D.C., U.S.,
June 27, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
The United States has struggled to slow North Korea's programs,
which have become a security priority given Pyongyang's vow to
develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S.
"The pressure on China can't stop," Haley said. "We have to have
China doing what they're supposed to. At the same time all other
countries need to make sure they're enforcing the sanctions that the
Security Council has already put in place."
Trump, increasingly frustrated with China over its inaction on North
Korea and bilateral trade issues, is now considering possible trade
actions against Beijing, senior administration officials told
The United States also plans to place China on its global list of
worst offenders in human trafficking and forced labor, sources said,
a step that could aggravate tensions with Beijing.
(Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle, editing by G Crosse)
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