US accuses Russia of covering up breaches of North Korea sanctions

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks at a press briefing at the United Nations headquarters in New York. PHOTO: REUTERS

UNITED NATIONS (REUTERS) - US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley accused Moscow on Thursday (Sept 13) of seeking to cover up breaches of UN sanctions on North Korea by Russians after it pushed for changes to an independent report on sanctions violations.

The UN Security Council will meet on Monday over the implementation of sanctions on North Korea at the request of Washington, the US mission to the United Nations said.

The report, submitted to the Security Council's North Korea sanctions committee last month, said Pyongyang had not stopped its nuclear and missile programmes and was violating UN sanctions on exports.

Diplomats said Russia pressured the independent sanctions monitors to amend the report. The Security Council has to agree by consensus on whether to publish the report and the United States objected to releasing the amended document.

"Russia can't be allowed to edit and obstruct independent UN reports on North Korea sanctions just because they don't like what they say. Period," Haley said in a statement.

"The full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions remains mandatory for all member states - including Russia."

The Russian mission to the United Nations and the chair of the independent panel of UN sanctions monitors did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The amended report removed some references to Russians accused of breaching sanctions on North Korea, said one diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Russia and China have suggested the Security Council discuss easing sanctions after US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met in June and Kim pledged to work toward denuclearisation.

The United States and other council members have said there must be strict enforcement of sanctions until Pyongyang acts.

Washington on Thursday imposed sanctions on a China-based tech firm, its North Korean chief executive and a Russian subsidiary, accusing them of moving illicit funding to North Korea in violation of US sanctions.

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