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Russia Opposes U.S. Call For New Sanctions Against North Korea

The intercontinental Hwasong-14 ballistic missile is seen in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency

The United States says it will soon present a new resolution to the United Nations Security Council to impose further sanctions on North Korea after the country launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, told the 15-member council on July 5 that "North Korea's launch of an ICBM is a clear and sharp military escalation" and also suggested that the United States could turn to its “considerable military forces” if a diplomatic solution is not reached.

However, Russia, while condemning North Korea’s actions, told the emergency meeting that it opposed further sanctions or any military force against Pyongyang and suggested a compromise between the North and the United States to ease tensions.

Haley, at times speaking directly at Russia's deputy UN ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov, said the United States will in the coming days “bring before the Security Council a resolution that raises the international response in a way that is proportionate to North Korea's new escalation."

She also said North Korea's actions were "quickly closing off the possibility of a diplomatic solution" and the United States was prepared to “use the full range of our capabilities to defend ourselves and our allies.”

"One of our capabilities lies with our considerable military forces,” she said. “We will use them if we must, but we prefer not to have to go in that direction."

She also warned that Washington was prepared to cut off trade with countries trading with Pyongyang in violation of UN resolutions.

"We will not look exclusively at North Korea; we will look at any country that chooses to do business with this outlaw regime," Haley added.

The ambassadors of France and Britain, two other permanent members of the Security Council, said they would back a new resolution strengthening sanctions against North Korea.

The Security Council emergency meeting was called by the United States, Japan, and South Korea after Pyongyang ratcheted up tensions with a July 3 test-launch of its first ICBM, which it boasted can carry "large and heavy" nuclear warheads.

The test was in defiance of a ban by the Security Council.

However, Russia's Safronkov said his country believed that military force should not be considered against North Korea and called for the United States to halt deployment of its THAAD antimissile system in South Korea.

"The possibility of taking military measures to resolve the problems of the Korean Peninsula should be excluded," said Safronkov.

"We express our support to the idea of North and South Korea engaging in dialogue and consultations," he said.

China's UN ambassador, Liu Jieyi, also condemned the North’s ballistic missile launch, calling it a "flagrant violation" of UN resolutions and "unacceptable," but said his country -- North Korea's only ally -- opposed the use of military force.

But Liu called on “all the parties concerned to exercise restraint, avoid provocative actions, and belligerent rhetoric, demonstrate the will for unconditional dialogue and work actively together to defuse the tension."

He also called for the halt of deployment of the THAAD antimissile system in the South.

Earlier in the day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia and China opposed any attempt to resolve the crisis over North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs by force or to bring about regime change in Pyongyang.

Lavrov told a Moscow news conference that "the task of the denuclearization of the entire Korean peninsula cannot and should not be used as a disguise for attempts to change North Korea's regime. “

"It is absolutely clear that any attempts to justify a belligerent solution, using the UN Security Council's resolutions as a pretext, are unacceptable and will lead to unpredicted consequences in the region," he added.

In a joint statement, Russia and China said on July 4 they agreed on the need for a simultaneous freezing of North Korea's missile and nuclear program and large-scale military exercises by the United States and South Korea as a compromise to ease tensions.

The statement also said that Moscow and Beijing want Washington to immediately halt its deployment of the THAAD system, which the United States says is necessitated by the North Korean missile threat.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump expressed his frustration with China for not putting more pressure on North Korea.

Trump wrote on Twitter, "Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40% in the first quarter. So much for China working with us -- but we had to give it a try!"

South Korea President Moon Jae-in, speaking in Berlin ahead of this week's Group of 20 (G20) summit, said the ICBM test was "a big threat and provocation. North Korea should stop this immediately," adding that "more intensive possibilities of sanctions" should be considered.

The United States and its South Korean ally conducted a ballistic missile fire exercise in the Sea of Japan in response to Pyongyang’s test, with Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis saying the U.S. military was confident it could defend against any threat from North Korea.

"So we do have confidence in our ability to defend against the limited threat, the nascent threat that is there," he said.

North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic-missile programs are banned by the Security Council, but Pyongyang has continued the tests, claiming they are necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the North’s leaders will not negotiate with the United States to give up its weapons until Washington ends its hostile policy against the country.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, AP, TASS, CNN, and Interfax