Amb. Haley attacks Russia for undermining sanctions on North Korea

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Monday accused Russia of cheating on sanctions on North Korea by "actively working to undermine" enforcement by the United Nations.

"Russia has engaged in a concerted campaign in the Security Council to cover up violations of sanctions, whether they're committed by Russians or citizens of other states," U.S. Ambassador the United Nations Nikki Haley said in an address to the U.N. Security Council. "The United States has evidence of consistent and wide-ranging Russian violations."

Monday's urgent meeting of the Security Council followed accusations by Haley that Russia pressured U.N. experts to alter an independent report implicating Russian actors in violations of North Korea sanctions. After discovering a section of the report on Russian and other countries violations had been altered, the U.S. prevented the report from being made public.

Russia denied the U.S. accusations and claimed the work of the panel had become increasingly politicized.

"Our viewpoint was not taken into account, unsurprisingly, therefore we insisted on having our position reflected in the document," Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vassily Nebenzia told the Security Council Monday.

"Deny, distract and lie, we have heard this same song many times before," Haley responded.

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In 2018, the U.S. tracked at least 148 instances of illegal ship-to-ship transfers to smuggle refined petroleum products into North Korea. The U.S. estimates North Korea has imported 160 percent of the U.N.-set cap of 500,000 barrels in the first eight months alone but suggest North Korea may have actually obtained four times the limit.

This is just the latest in a series of sanction violations alleged by the Trump administration since the Singapore Summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June.

The same August U.N. report, withheld from publication by the U.S. citing Russian interference, reveals Pyongyang has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs and is still violating sanctions by transferring coal at sea.

U.N. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Rosemary di Carlo informed members at Monday's U.N. Security Council meeting of even further evidence of North Korea continuing its nuclear program. The U.N. monitoring group, the International Atomic Energy Agency, reported in August it had "seen signatures consistent with the continued operation of the plutonium production reactor, radiochemical laboratory and alleged uranium enrichment facility" at North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear site.

As NBC News reported, the latests intelligence shows Kim's regime has escalated efforts to conceal its nuclear activity in the months since the Singapore Summit, according to three senior U.S. officials.

And despite the U.S. pushing international partners to maintain pressure on North Korea to denuclearize, full support from critical allies, Russia and China, has waned.

From coal shipments to revived construction projects to planes ferrying Chinese tourists to Pyongyang, China has reopened the door to both legal and illegal trade with the North, throwing the North Korean government a vital lifeline while derailing U.S. diplomacy.

Not directly accused of cheating by the U.S. in Monday's meeting, China insisted it has always been a "positive, constructive force" in the push for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

"China would never allow Chinese citizens or enterprises to engage in any activities that violate council resolutions," Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations, Liu Jieyi, told the Security Council. "China's serious attitude towards implementation of the council resolutions on the DPRK and the cost it pays are obvious to all."

Trump and Kim have recently exchanged letters but high level dialogue between the United States and North Korea has slowed and the most recent trip by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Pyongyang was cancelled.

Pressure on the United States to show progress in the talks is increasing as world leaders prepare to arrive in New York next week for the annual U.N. General Assembly. Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are expected to meet at the U.N. following Moon's own meeting with Kim on Tuesday.

"The difficult, sensitive talks with North Korea are ongoing. The Trump-Kim summit has set us on the path toward complete denuclearization. But we are not there yet," Haley told Security Council members. "And until we get there, we must not ease the powerful worldwide sanctions that are in place."

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Nikki Haley through the years
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Nikki Haley through the years

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, nominee to be the US ambassador to the United Nations, walks through the Capitol to the Senate subway on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017.

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley testifies before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on her nomination to be to U.S. ambassador to the United Nations at Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 18, 2017.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Delegates pose for pictures with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (C) on the floor during the third session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 20, 2016.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

U.S.Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley at the Federalist Society, 2016 National Lawyers Convention at the Mayflower Hotel, on November 18, 2016 in Washington, DC.

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Republican South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley delivers remarks at the Federalist Society 2016 National Lawyers Convention in Washington, U.S., November 18, 2016.

(REUTERS/Gary Cameron)

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (L) and U.S. Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio react on stage during a campaign event in Chapin, South Carolina February 17, 2016. Haley announced her endorsement of Rubio for the Republican presidential nomination.

(REUTERS/Chris Keane)

Escorted by staff and security, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (C) moves from one television interview to another across from the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church June 19, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Haley called for the death penalty for Dylann Storm Roof, 21, of Lexington, South Carolina, if he is found guilty of murdering nine people during a prayer meeting at the church Wednesday night. Among the dead is the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of the church which, according to the National Park Service, is the oldest black congregation in America south of Baltimore.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, right, greets U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-SC, at the first church service four days after a mass shooting that claimed the lives of nine people at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Church June 21, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Chruch elders decided to hold the regularly scheduled Sunday school and worship service as they continue to grieve the shooting death of nine of its members including its pastor earlier this week.

(Photo by Paul Zoeller-Pool/Getty Images)

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley speaks to press outside the Emanuel AME Church June 19, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina.US police arrested a white high school dropout Thursday suspected of carrying out a gun massacre at one of America's oldest black churches, the latest deadly assault to fuel simmering racial tensions. Authorities detained 21-year-old Dylann Roof, shown wearing the flags of defunct white supremacist regimes in pictures taken from social media, after nine churchgoers were shot dead during a Bible study class on Wednesday evening.

(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Escorted by staff and security, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (C) moves from one television interview to another across from the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church June 19, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. Haley called for the death penalty for Dylann Storm Roof, 21, of Lexington, South Carolina, if he is found guilty of murdering nine people during a prayer meeting at the church Wednesday night. Among the dead is the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of the church which, according to the National Park Service, is the oldest black congregation in America south of Baltimore.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley holds a news conference with fellow members of the Republican Governors Association at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce February 23, 2015 in Washington, DC. Republican and Democratic governors met with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House Monday during the last day of the National Governors Association winter meeting.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley waves on stage during the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 28, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Today is the first full session of the RNC after the start was delayed due to Tropical Storm Isaac.

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Former Florida Governor and potential GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush walks with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley during a visit to Sistercare, a non-profit that aids domestic violence victims and their children on March 17, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. Bush announced in December that he 'actively explore' a presidential run in 2016. He is currently on a two day tour through South Carolina and will attend several fundraising events.

(Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)

Nikki Haley applauds the Claflin College Choir after their performance during her inauguration as governor of South Carolina, Wednesday, January 12, 2011, in Columbia, South Carolina.

(Tim Dominick/The State/MCT via Getty Images)

US Republican Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, on March 15, 2013.

(NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Republican candidate for South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) smiles along with her husband Michael Haley (L) and daughter Rena (C) as they watch the runoff election results at the Columbia Sheraton on June 22, 2010 in Columbia, South Carolina. Haley defeated Rep. Gresham Barrett in a runoff election.

(Photo by Chris Keane/Getty Images)

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley speaks to the media prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on May 12, 2012 in Darlington, South Carolina.

(Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gives a birthday cake to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley during a campaign rally at Charleston Area Convention Center on January 20, 2012 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Romney continues to campaign for votes in South Carolina ahead of their primary on January 21.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Nikki Haley speaks to supporters as she comes onto stage during an election party for Republican South Carolina Governor candidate Nikki Haley at the State Museum on June 22, 2010 in Columbia, South Carolina. Haley defeated Rep. Gresham Barrett in a runoff election.

(Photo by Chris Keane/Getty Images)

Republican candidate for South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) smiles along with her husband Michael Haley (L) and daughter Rena (C) as they watch the runoff election results at the Columbia Sheraton on June 22, 2010 in Columbia, South Carolina. Haley defeated Rep. Gresham Barrett in a runoff election.

(Photo by Chris Keane/Getty Images)

South Carolina State Rep. Nikki Haley from Lexington, pictured on May 14, 2009, is launching a bid to become South Carolina's first female governor.

(Photo by Tim Dominick/The State/MCT via Getty Images)

UNITED STATES - JUNE 22: Nikki Haley

(Photo By Douglas Graham/Roll Call/Getty Images)

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