China cites Thaad issue to slow UNSC response

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China cites Thaad issue to slow UNSC response

Seoul and Washington’s decision to deploy the controversial Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system in Korea is straining cooperation in the UN Security Council over applying pressure on Pyongyang for its nuclear and missile provocations.

On July 9, North Korea launched another submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), but the UN Security Council has yet to release a joint statement condemning Pyongyang for this mainly because Beijing opposes the deployment of Thaad, according to multiple sources on Monday.

Two permanent members of the 15-member UN Security Council, China and Russia, have vehemently protested the deployment of the U.S.-led anti-ballistic missile system on the Korean Peninsula, saying it compromises their security interests.

And nearly 10 days after Pyongyang’s SLBM launch, Beijing’s opposition to the deployment of Thaad in Korea is putting a damper on progress in discussing a response to Pyongyang’s latest SLBM launch.

According to a Korean source well-informed about the situation in the United Nations, “China says it needs time to comprehensively review what sort of effect the Thaad system will have on the North Korea nuclear issue and the situation in Northeast Asia in order for it to decide on a UN Security Council-level measure.”

The source also said on Monday, “This is a different move from the past, and naturally, the 15-member Security Council members’ discussion [on the SLBM launch] is becoming delayed.”

Previous ballistic missile launches by North Korea led to an immediate statement by the UN Security Council condemning the action.

Following North Korea’s launch of two intermediate-range Musudan ballistic missiles on June 22, the council released a press statement the next day that “strongly condemned” Pyongyang’s launches.

This statement called upon countries to “report as soon as possible on concrete measures they have taken in order to implement effectively the provisions of Resolution 2270,” which was adopted by the Security Council early in March in response to Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test in January and long-range missile test one month later.

Similarly, Pyongyang’s SLBM launch on April 23 likewise drew strong condemnation from the council, which released a statement within a day of the test.

BY CHA SE-YEON, SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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