North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guides on the spot the underwater test-fire of strategic submarine ballistic missile in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on April 24, 2016. KCNA/via REUTERS.(reuters_tickers)
By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - A United Nations Security Council condemnation of North Korea's latest missile tests has been delayed by Russian amendments to a statement that had been agreed by the remaining 14 members, including Pyongyang's ally China, diplomats said on Tuesday.
North Korea test-fired what appeared to be two intermediate-range ballistic missiles on Thursday, but both failed. China's U.N. Ambassador Liu Jieyi, president of the U.N. Security Council last month, said the body was working on a response.
"The Security Council needs to respond swiftly; so we don't understand why Russia is blocking while all other council members, including China, which borders DPRK (North Korea), can agree," Britain's Deputy U.N. Ambassador Peter Wilson said.
Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said on Monday that Moscow had added "some very valuable input" to the draft council statement that the United States was considering "unhappily."
"We need to call a spade a spade and we think that asking for the interested parties to scale down their military activity in the region is very important," Churkin said, referring to moves by the United States and South Korea.
Russia and China on Friday called on the United States not to install a new anti-missile system in South Korea, after Washington said it was in talks with Seoul following North Korea's nuclear arms and missile tests.
The North routinely threatens to destroy South Korea and the United States.
Last week's missile tests are the latest in a string of demonstrations of military might that began in January with North Korea's fourth nuclear test and included the launch of a long-range rocket in February.
"North Korea is clearly lashing out in dangerous and provocative ways and every member of the Security Council ... is concerned about this except evidently Russia," said a council diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"Incredibly Russia proposed amendments that were not aimed at the DPRK (North Korea) but rather at countries seeking to protect themselves from this threat," said the diplomat.
North Korea's tests have increased tension on the Korean peninsula. North and South Korea remain technically at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, rather than a treaty.
In March, the U.N. Security Council imposed harsh new sanctions on North Korea to starve it of money for its nuclear weapons programme.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by James Dalgleish)