UN Report Says North Korea is Continuing Nuclear Program, But ASEAN More Positive
A confidential report released by the United Nations (UN) stated that North Korea is continuing its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, in violation of an international sanction but others disagree.
The 149-page report obtained by CNN from an unidentified source at the U.N. on Friday went public while U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Singapore to attend the ASEAN Regional Forum which includes the ten ASEAN member countries plus the U.S., China, Japan and both North and South Korea. It is the only international forum that North Korea attends.
“(North Korea) has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs and continued to defy Security Council resolutions through a massive increase in illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products, as well as through transfers of coal at sea during 2018,” the report described.
The document also mentioned that North Korea had violated U.N. sanctions by selling conventional weapons illegally. North Korea is cooperating militarily with Syria and is trying to ship its weapons to Yemen’s Houthi rebel group.
The report claimed North Korean technicians visited Syria in 2011, 2016 and 2017 and were involved in Syria’s ballistic missile and other forbidden programs there.
“Pyongyang also violated textile ban by exporting goods worth more than $100 million between October 2017 and March 2018 to China, Ghana, India, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, and Uruguay,” the report continued.
The latest document seems to confirm a previous report in the Washington Post early this week that published vital information including satellite imagery indicating that Pyongyang was building a new missile.
The North Korean envoy to the United Nations has yet to respond to the confidential report. Historically, North Korean diplomats usually snub such findings.
Washington Urges the World to Increase Pressure on Pyongyang, Blames Russia
During his Singapore visit, Pompeo stated that it is very important to maintain “the economic and diplomatic pressure” on North Korea in order to reach full and verified denuclearization.
The former CIA chief added that the Trump administration vows to keep pressuring Pyongyang who has yet to fully commit to dismantling its nuclear arms.
Pompeo also issued a warning to Moscow and accused it of assisting North Korea to avoid some of the U.N. Security Council resolutions.
“We expect the Russians and all countries to abide by the UN Security Council resolutions and enforce sanctions on North Korea,” Pompeo said.
Most experts say it would take years for North Korea to disarm, given its capability to produce around 20 to 40 kilograms of plutonium, and it only takes five or six kilograms to make a bomb. Sigfried Hecker from Stanford University explained that other evidence suggested that North Korea may possess 25 to 30 atomic bombs.
During the ASEAN forum, Pompeo did seem to acknowledge that it would take North Korea time to denuclearize.
“I am optimistic that we would get this done in the timeline,” Pompeo said during a news conference. “The world would celebrate with the U.N. Security Council.”
North Korea Accuses the US of Being Impatient
During the ASEAN regional forum in Singapore on August 4 and 5, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho criticized the U.S. for being impatient on Pyongyang’s effort to denuclearize.
“What is alarming, however, is the insistent moves manifested within the U.S. to go back to the old, far from its leader’s intention,” Ri stated.
“In the world of politics, as is the case in the science world, a birth of the new is inevitably accompanied by the struggle to overcome the old,” Ri also said in a statement. “We believe that the only practical way for moving forward is to take a new approach of giving priority to confidence-building and implementing all items of the joint statement in a balanced, simultaneous and phased way.”
North Korea insisted it has taken several steps to destroy the launch test site and dismantle its nuclear weapons since the agreement signed by its leader Kim Jong-Un and the U.S. President Donald Trump last June in Singapore.
Despite Pompeo’s Accusation, ASEAN Holds a Positive Response to Developments
As the U.S. and North Korea exchange accusations, ASEAN member countries have welcomed positive developments seen in the Korean Peninsula, as revealed by Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in Singapore.
The former ambassador to the Netherlands emphasized that the main goal of ASEAN countries is North Korea’s denuclearization.
“Once again, our end goal is denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. That was the sentiment at the ASEAN meetings and we repeated it again during [Saturday’s] meeting,” Retno stated.
Singapore also saw current ASEAN issues, including the denuclearization of North Korea in an optimistic light. “The tone was far more constructive, far more positive this year,” Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said at the closing press conference of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum.
Marsudi added that ASEAN member countries hope that the governments of North Korea and South Korea will implement the outcome of the Inter-Korea meeting in order to create a lasting peace in the Korea Peninsula.