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Pompeo urges UN members to uphold N. Korea sanctions

July 20, 2018

Mike Pompeo has told the UN that sanctions on North Korea should be upheld to pressure Kim Jong Un to denuclearize. Talks between the US and the North have got off to a rocky start after last month's Singapore summit.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha
Image: Reuters/B. McDermid

America's top diplomat Mike Pompeo told the United Nations Security Council on Friday that member states stood united in seeking the denuclearization of North Korea, but insisted the strict enforcement of economic sanctions was crucial to achieving this goal.

"The countries of the Security Council are united on the need for final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea as agreed to by Chairman Kim (Jong Un)," Pompeo said. "Strict enforcement of sanctions is critical to achieving this goal."

After addressing the security council, Pompeo told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York that the US believed North Korea could shed its status as a "pariah" state, but stressed "it will take full enforcement of sanctions for us to get there."

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Those remarks were echoed by the Netherlands' UN ambassador Karel Van Oosterom, who chairs the Security Council committee on North Korea sanctions. 

"I think for all of us it's clear that the progress is in the talks so far, that the engagement is there and the discussions are taking place," he said. "But we're waiting for concrete actions and deeds on the ground," added Van Oosterom, who chairs the Security Council committee on North Korea sanctions.

Signs states continue to violate North Korea sanctions

According to reports, Pompeo expressed concerns during talks with his South Korean counterpart, Kang Kyung-wha, that Pyongyang had recently begun receiving several shipments of petroleum in violation of sanctions. 

Those fears were also reflected in Washington's UN Ambassador Nikki Haley's speech on Friday.  "Some of our friends have decided they want to do away with the rules," she said. "The best way to support the (peace) talks is not to relax sanctions. We can't do anything until we see North Korea honor its promise to denuclearize."

Read more: Whither North Korea's economy?

It remained unclear from where the shipments are coming, although China remains the North's closest trading partner despite it backing calls for economic sanctions on the rogue state.

During last month's historic summit between US President Donald Trump and Kim, the two leaders agreed to work towards the "complete denuclearize" of the Korean peninsula, albeit without providing further details how this would be achieved.

Subsequent talks between senior officials from Washington and Pyongyang have got off to a rocky start start, with the North accusing the US of making "unilateral and gangster-like" demands.

Kim & Trump: A big deal?

dm/tj (AP, AFP, dpa)