U.S. envoy calls for new U.N. sanctions if North Korea tests nuclear weapon

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SEOUL, June 1 (UPI) — The United States will push for new U.N. sanctions against North Korea if the secretive state conducts a nuclear weapon test, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield has said.

The U.S. envoy to the United Nations made the comment on Tuesday days after a U.S.-led Security Council resolution to punish North Korea for its spate of ballistic missile tests this year was vetoed by Russia and China.

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“First of all, we need to enforce the sanctions that we already have authority to enforce,” Thomas-Greenfield said during a news conference at the United Nations in New York City.

“And we certainly, as we attempted in this last resolution, will push for additional sanctions,” she said in response to a question about a potential North Korean nuclear test.

Thomas-Greenfield once again slammed Beijing and Moscow for failing to support new sanctions in a Security Council vote last week after Pyongyang fired three ballistic missiles, including an ICBM, in its 17th round of weapons tests of the year.

“As you saw and we were not surprised to see, China and Russia both chose to veto that resolution,” she said. “This was an unthinkable abdication of their responsibilities to the Council and to protecting international peace and security.”

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Officials in Washington and Seoul have said repeatedly that Pyongyang is poised to conduct its seventh nuclear test at any time and satellite imagery analysis shows that the regime has conducted extensive repairs on its Punggye-ri nuclear test facility.

South Korea’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday that Seoul is closely watching for further provocations by North Korea, including preparations for a nuclear detonation at Punggye-ri.

Ministry spokesman Choi Young-sam said in a press briefing that South Korea will “respond strongly” to any nuclear test by adopting a new Security Council resolution and will strengthen its “extended deterrence based on the strong South Korea-U.S. combined defense posture.”

U.S. President Joe Biden met with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol last month and reaffirmed the United States’ extended deterrence commitment using the “full range of U.S. defense capabilities, including nuclear, conventional and missile defense capabilities.”