UNSC fails to extend mandate of expert panel monitoring N.K. sanctions enforcement

A divided U.N. Security Council (UNSC) failed Thursday to extend the mandate of the expert panel charged with monitoring the enforcement of sanctions against North Korea, in an unprecedented move likely to undermine global efforts to curb Pyongyang's nuclear and missile threats. The council failed to adopt a new resolution meant to extend the mandate of the Panel of Experts by another year as Russia vetoed it amid its call for an annual extension of UNSC sanctions against Pyongyang. The panel's mandate is now set to expire on April 30. In Thursday's vote, 13 countries voted in favor of the resolution with one objection and one abstention. The panel's mandate had been extended annually since it was launched in 2009 in line with UNSC Resolution 1874 adopted in response to the North's second nuclear test in May of the same year. Assisting the UNSC Sanctions Committee on North Korea, the panel has served as an important institutional platform to oversee sanctions against the North. It has published two report s each year -- an interim report and a final report -- on instances of sanctions violations based on information from U.N. member states and other open-source materials. It consists of eight experts from the five permanent UNSC members -- the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia -- as well as South Korea, Japan and Singapore. The panel has so far laid bare a series of sanctions violations, including those about the North's nuclear and missile programs and other prohibited activities, such as the import of luxury goods and ship-to-ship transfers of sanctioned items. Source: Yonhap News Agency