Trump to nominate envoy for North Korea to United Nations job

President Donald Trump (left) has nominated Mr Alex Wong to be the alternate US representative for special political affairs at the world body with the rank of ambassador.
President Donald Trump (left) has nominated Mr Alex Wong to be the alternate US representative for special political affairs at the world body with the rank of ambassador.PHOTOS: AFP, EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US President Donald Trump plans to nominate the State Department's deputy special representative for North Korea to a post at the United Nations, the White House said on Tuesday (Feb 11).

Mr Alex Wong has been nominated to be the alternate US representative for special political affairs at the world body with the rank of ambassador, a White House statement said.

The move follows a report suggesting that Mr Trump, who held a series of unprecedented but largely fruitless summits with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un aimed at persuading Mr Kim to give up his nuclear weapons, could be losing interest in the efforts.

CNN on Monday quoted two sources familiar with the matter as saying that Mr Trump, frustrated at the lack of progress, had told top foreign policy advisers he does not want another summit with Mr Kim before the US presidential election in November.

Talks between the two sides have stalled since last year over an inability to reconcile North Korea's demands for relief from punishing sanctions and other concessions and US demands for North Korea to denuclearise.

The senior US envoy for North Korea, Mr Stephen Biegun, took over the job of deputy secretary of state in December.

While North Korea has not tested a nuclear bomb or long-range missile since 2017, a confidential UN report seen by Reuters on Monday said it continued to enhance its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes last year in breach of UN sanctions.

North Korea did not act on a threat to present the United States with a "Christmas surprise" that some feared could involve a return to testing, but Mr Kim has warned that the world would soon see a "new strategic weapon."

On Tuesday, Washington's Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank said satellite imagery of North Korea's main nuclear site at Yongbyon taken on Feb 10 showed three specialised railcars that have been associated with the movement of radioactive material in the past.

 
 

It said it was unclear what type of material was being transported, but the relatively small size and number of casks on the railcars suggested outbound shipment of small quantities of irradiated liquid or solid waste, contaminated equipment, or movement of fissile material to facilities outside Yongbyon.

The report suggested the activity could also be a carefully calibrated move by North Korea to manoeuvre current international diplomatic tensions.