The UN Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution to renew the mandate of UN experts monitoring sanctions against North Korea hours after members met to discuss Pyongyang's latest test firings of banned ballistic missiles. The ballistic missile launches were the first since US President Joe Biden took office on Jan. 20 and appeared aimed at increasing pressure on his administration while nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang remain stalled.
Negotiations faltered after the second summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and former US President Donald Trump collapsed in February 2019 when the Americans rejected North Korean demands for major sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.
The Security Council has been meeting virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic and email voting began after the North's missile launches on Thursday morning. The US holds the council presidency this month and the unanimous result of the vote was announced Friday afternoon by acting US deputy ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis.
The US-drafted resolution extends the panel of experts' mandate until April 30, 2022, and emphasizes “the importance of credible, fact-based, independent assessments, analysis, and recommendations.”
In their latest report to the council in early February, the experts said North Korea has modernized its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles by flaunting United Nations sanctions, using cyberattacks to help finance its programs, and continuing to seek material and technology overseas for its arsenal including in Iran.