The United States has accused Russia of altering an independent United Nations report to cover up Moscow’s alleged violation of UN sanctions on North Korea.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on September 13 said Russia pressured the independent sanctions monitors to amend a report that was eventually submitted to the Security Council's North Korea sanctions committee last month.
The report said Pyongyang had not stopped its nuclear and missile programs and that it was violating UN sanctions on exports.
Haley and other diplomats claim that Russia pressured the independent monitors to amend the report.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, one diplomat said the amended report removed some references to Russians accused of breaching North Korea sanctions.
Another diplomat told AFP that several paragraphs referring to Russian oil trade were removed at Moscow's urging.
At the end of August, Russia blocked publication of the report because it disagreed with findings that Pyongyang had exceeded a 2018 import limit for oil set by the sanctions imposed in 2017, the diplomat said.
"Russia can't be allowed to edit and obstruct independent UN reports on North Korea sanctions just because they don't like what they say. Period," Haley said in a statement.
"The full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions remains mandatory for all member states – including Russia.
"This is a dangerous precedent and a stain on the important work of the panel," Haley said.
Haley has called for the original report to be released by the 15-member Security Council, which must agree by consensus on whether to publish the findings.
Russia’s UN mission and the head of the sanctions monitor panel did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Russia and China have pushed for the Security Council to ease sanctions on Pyongyang after the summit in June between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Kim at the summit pledged to work toward denuclearization, although U.S. and other officials have said the North has made little progress to the stated goal.
The Security Council is scheduled to meet on September 17 to discuss implementation of sanctions on North Korea at Washington’s the request.
Earlier on September 13, the United States imposed sanctions on two information technology companies based in China and Russia for supporting Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.
"Treasury is once again warning the IT industry, businesses, and individuals across the globe to take precautions to ensure that they are not unwittingly employing North Korean workers for technology projects by doing business with companies like the ones designated today," Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement.
"The United States will continue to fully enforce and implement sanctions until we have achieved the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea,” he added.