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N Korea at crossroads

US presses countries to enforce North Korea sanctions

Pompeo says Pyongyang's violations dim denuclearization hopes

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley speak to reporters at the U.N. on July 20.   © Reuters

UNITED NATIONS -- Sanctions against North Korea must be enforced by all countries until Pyongyang moves seriously on toward denuclearization, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a briefing to U.N. Security Council representatives on Friday.

"Members of the United Nations Security Council, and by extension all United Nations member states, have unanimously agreed to fully enforce sanctions on North Korea, and we expect them to continue to honor those commitments," Pompeo told reporters here after the briefing. "When sanctions are not enforced, the prospects for the successful denuclearization of North Korea are diminished."

"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," he added. "Strict enforcement of sanctions is critical to our achieving this goal."

In his first appearance at the U.N. since the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore last month, Pompeo urged a crackdown on the North's sanctions violations. Those violations include 89 illegal ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products, coal smuggling and cybertheft, he said.

Pompeo took an optimistic tone, however, suggesting that both he and Trump remain "upbeat about the prospects of denuclearization" and asserted that "progress is happening."

But the secretary declined to give specifics about what the North should do to show its commitment to denuclearization. "Chairman Kim made a promise" to denuclearize, Pompeo said. "We need to see Chairman Kim do what he promised the world he would do. It's not very fancy, but it's the truth."

Despite the apparent unity of the Security Council on the need for denuclearization, not all countries are agreed on the importance of keeping sanctions pressure on.

"The problem we're encountering is that some of our friends have decided that they want to go around the rules," U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said following Pompeo's remarks to reporters.

Haley singled out China and Russia, both permanent members of the council and trading partners of North Korea, for blocking a U.S. proposal to halt all additional refined petroleum shipments there this week. This came after Washington submitted a report to council members stating that the North had already exceeded its annual import cap.

"Now for China and Russia to block it, what are they telling us? Are they telling us that they want to continue supplying this oil?" Haley asked.

The U.S. had previously blocked a Chinese proposal for a joint statement that would have expressed the council's "willingness to adjust the measures" against the North.

"If we want to see success, we have to see a response from Chairman Kim," Haley said, calling Pompeo's briefing a "very frank talk."

"And so, [it was a] very successful day, again promising that the Security Council has remained united, and continuing to put pressure on our members to not fall through on that process," she said.

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