China and Russia on Thursday vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution drafted by the United States seeking to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea following a series of ballistic missile tests this year.

This was the first rejection of a U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at preventing North Korea from developing nuclear weapons and missiles since 2006, when the first sanctions were adopted. The other 13 countries of the 15-member U.N. Security Council voted in favor of the draft resolution.

The U.N. Security Council votes on a resolution that sought to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea in New York on May 26, 2022. China and Russia vetoed the resolution. (Photo courtesy of the United Nations)(Kyodo)

After the vote, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield told reporters that she was disappointed by the Security Council's failure to unite.

China's U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun said at the Security Council meeting that additional sanctions against North Korea "will not help resolve the problem, but only lead to more negative effects and escalation of confrontation."

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia warned that imposing tougher sanctions would be "extremely dangerous from humanitarian consequences," pointing to the plight of people in North Korea amid a shortage of medication.

Japanese Ambassador Kimihiro Ishikane, who joined the meeting as a concerned party as the country is not a member of the Security Council, said, "Japan deeply regrets" the results of the vote, adding that reasons behind the two countries' objection are "totally unclear and unconvincing."

The U.N. General Assembly will hold a meeting in the near future to seek accountability from the veto-wielding members after it adopted a resolution last month that it will convene a formal gathering if one or more members in the Security Council cast a veto.

The effectiveness of the Security Council has been in question since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, with the panel failing to take any action due to Moscow's veto.

In February, Russia vetoed a Security Council resolution that would have demanded it immediately stop its attack on Ukraine and withdraws all its troops.

The latest U.S.-drafted resolution, which was distributed to Security Council members last month following North Korea's firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile in March, included freezing the assets of the Lazarus Group, the country's state-sponsored hacking group, and reducing crude oil supplies to the country.

On Wednesday, Pyongyang fired three missiles including one capable of intercontinental range.

In Tokyo, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said Friday it was "extremely regrettable" that China and Russia vetoed the draft resolution, adding the move highlighted the problem of veto rights and that Security Council reform is needed.

Condemning the series of ICBM launches by North Korea, Matsuno told a press conference, "We hope that the Security Council will fulfill its original responsibility to maintain international peace and security."

He said that Japan will "cooperate with many countries to take the leadership in reform," including its bid to become a permanent member of the Security Council.

In a related move, Japan, the United States and South Korea will hold a meeting of their senior officials in charge of North Korea issues on June 3 in Seoul, their first trilateral talks since South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol took office early this month, the Japanese and South Korean foreign ministries said.

Takehiro Funakoshi, director general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, will meet with Sung Kim, U.S. special representative for North Korea, and Kim Gunn, South Korea's special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, according to the ministries.

A U.N. resolution is adopted when nine or more of the 15 countries on the Security Council vote in favor and none of the five permanent members -- which also include Britain, France and the United States -- exercise their right to veto.

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