US urges United Nations to stay united on North Korea sanctions

NEW YORK • United States President Donald Trump's envoy for North Korea called on United Nations Security Council members to stay united in pressuring North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's government to give up its nuclear weapons, following failed talks last month between Mr Trump and Mr Kim in Hanoi, Vietnam.

US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun briefed the council members at the US Mission to the UN in New York on Thursday, and stressed the importance of ensuring that UN sanctions are maintained and fully implemented amid ongoing North Korea denuclearisation talks, according to a diplomat who was present at the meeting but who requested anonymity to discuss it.

Both China and Russia have called for easing sanctions on North Korea - a move that the US thinks could jeopardise the Kim regime's willingness to dismantle its nuclear weapons programme.

A UN report this week showed that North Korea is successfully evading sanctions through elaborate methods to import oil, export coal and hack into foreign banks.

Earlier this week, Mr Biegun told the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's nuclear conference in Washington that the US will not accept a phased denuclearisation by North Korea, even as he reiterated that the Trump administration is still "very much engaged with our counterparts in North Korea".

"We would lift that pressure," he said on Monday. "But in exchange for only a portion of those weapons of mass destruction programmes... that would have put us in a position, a very difficult position, of essentially subsidising what would potentially be ongoing development of weapons of mass destruction in North Korea. We need a total solution."

Mr Biegun on Monday also dismissed speculation that a tougher US line in Hanoi could have been due to the presence of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton alongside Mr Trump.

 

"That position has not hardened," he said.

BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2019, with the headline 'US urges UN to stay united on N. Korea sanctions'. Print Edition | Subscribe