SINGAPORE - United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday (Aug 4) warned Russia and the international community not to violate global sanctions on North Korea, as he stressed the importance of maintaining pressure on Pyongyang to denuclearise.
The warning, made at his press conference at the sidelines of Asean-related meetings, came a day after his call on Asean to maintain diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea amid concerns that Pyongyang is making slow progress towards denuclearisation.
Mr Pompeo addressed Wall Street Journal reports that Russia was entering into joint ventures with North Korean firms and granting new work permits to North Korean guest workers, saying that the US had every reason to believe these reports were accurate.
He noted that if the reports were indeed true, these actions would be in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2375 that imposed sanctions on North Korea.
"We want to remind every nation that has supported these resolutions and that this is a serious issue that we will discuss with Moscow.
"We expect every nation to abide by the UN Security Council resolutions and enforce sanctions on North Korea. Any violation that detracts from the world's goal of fully denuclearisation North Korea is something that America will take very seriously," he said.
Mr Pompeo also called on countries in the region to strictly enforce all sanctions, including the complete shutdown of illegal ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum destined for North Korea.
"It's worth remembering this isn't just an American security goal. It is clear. Our partners and allies in Asean know how important the denuclearisation of North Korea is for their own security," Mr Pompeo said.
Mr Pompeo said it was important for countries to maintain the pressure to "achieve final, fully-verified denuclearisation of North Korea, which Chairman Kim Jong Un had agreed to".
"The process of achieving denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula has been one we have all known will take some time. But I must say, from my meetings here the world is united seeing this achieved," he said.
But since the June 12 summit between Mr Kim and President Donald Trump in Singapore, the US has been heartened by North Korea's repatriation of the remains of US troops killed in the Korean War, and has noted the work North Korea has done to dismantle its engine test site, said Mr Pompeo.
On denuclearisation, he said: "We're determined to do it, Chairman Kim has committed to doing it, I'm optimistic we'll get this done in the timeline."
The US top diplomat, who is in Singapore for Asean-related meetings this week, said that he had not met his North Korean counterpart here.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho is also in Singapore for the Asean Regional Forum, and met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Friday.
Hours later, Mr Wang said that countries at the East Asia Summit - Asean and eight other countries, including the US - had discussed regional developments, and called the recent improvements on the Korean Peninsula a positive turn.
"The Korean nuclear issue has been brought back to the track of seeking peaceful settlement through dialogue and consultation," he said at a separate press conference.
"All parties concerned, including the US and the DPRK, have arrived at the important consensus that there needs to be parallel progress on both tracks of achieving denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula and establishment of a peace mechanism there.
"This has been the longstanding proposition from China, and also the direction China has been committed to. China welcomes the recent positive development in this direction," said Mr Wang.