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Haley: 'Russian Corruption Is Like a Virus,' Could Sicken UN Security Council

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley talks with South Korea's Ambassador Cho Tae-yong at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Sept. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley tore into Russia at the UN Security Council today for blocking a report showing that the Kremlin and Beijing are “actively working” to undermine the sanctions regime against North Korea.

Haley said the U.S. sought the briefing for “the chance to examine the difference between words and deeds” and to see whether the Security Council’s “efforts to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs are being honored and enforced and, if not, why.”

Russia voted for sanctions, she noted, and now wants to ease sanctions on the Kim regime as it wants to pursue economic projects in North Korea. “The question one should ask is why? Why, after voting for sanctions eleven different times, is Russia now backing away from them? We know the answer. It is because Russia has been cheating. And now they’ve been caught,” Haley declared.

“Despite its repeated support for UN sanctions, Russia is actively working to undermine the enforcement of the Security Council’s sanctions on North Korea. Its violations are not one-offs. They are systematic,” she added. “Russia has not simply looked the other way as its nationals and entities engage in activities explicitly prohibited by UN sanctions. Russia has engaged in a concerted campaign in the Security Council to cover up violations of sanctions, whether they’re committed by Russia or citizens of other states.”

Haley said the U.S. “has evidence of consistent and wide-ranging Russian violations” that “should offend every current and former member of the Security Council who knows how difficult it was to gain passage of these sanctions.”

“And it should offend every country that has felt the looming threat of North Korean nuclear weapons,” she added.

One example, she said, was a Russian vessel filmed in April conducting a ship-to-ship transfer of oil with a North Korean tanker.

“Just this year, the United States tracked at least 148 instances of oil tankers delivering refined petroleum products obtained through illegal ship-to-ship transfers. We estimate that at the least, North Korea has obtained over 800,000 barrels of refined petroleum products in the first eight months of this year. That’s 160 percent of the 2018 annual cap of 500,000. In reality, we think they have obtained four times the annual quota in the first 8 months of this year,” Haley continued. “We presented evidence of these violations to the 1718 Committee that tracks sanctions implementation. But Russia prevented the Committee from declaring that North Korea exceeded its oil quota.”

“…The list goes on. Russia agreed with the rest of the Security Council one year ago to sanction a North Korean operative in Moscow who was raising money for weapons programs. But it never expelled this operative, and when it came time to act, Russia not only fought to allow the operative to remain in its country, but it’s fighting for him to retain access to his Moscow bank account. For what? To finance his illegal operations in Russia in violation of the UN sanctions. Step by step, sanction by sanction, and time and time again, Russia is working across the board to undermine the sanctions regime.”

Haley said Russia threatened to prevent release of last month’s independent Panel of Experts report to the sanctions committee unless evidence of Russian sanctions violations was stripped out.

“We’ve seen this Russian tendency to kill the messengers of inconvenient truths before. They didn’t like it when the Joint Investigative Mechanism concluded that their client, the Assad regime, used chemical weapons against its own people in Syria. So they just killed the mechanism,” she said. “Now Russia has succeeded in discrediting the UN independent panel reporting process because it called out their violations.”

“Russian corruption is like a virus. It is impeding our ability to achieve complete denuclearization in North Korea. Now it has spread to the sanctions reporting process. If we’re not careful, the sickness will make its way to the integrity and effectiveness of the Security Council itself.”

Haley called on Russia to “now demonstrate by its deeds that it shares our objective in North Korea” of denuclearization.

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia accused Haley of lying and “trying to deceive the international community here.”

Nebenzia said the U.S. is “becoming increasingly aggressive in trying to subjugate the UN Security Council.”

“Deny, distract, and lie. We have heard this same song many times before… Lying, cheating, and rogue behavior have become the new norm of the Russian culture,” Haley fired back.