UNITED NATIONS — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared Friday that the U.N. Security Council is united on the need for the fully verified denuclearization of North Korea, and he urged all countries — especially Russia and China — to strictly enforce U.N. sanctions to achieve that goal.
Pompeo told reporters after briefing members of the U.N.’s most powerful body that President Donald Trump “remains upbeat about the prospects for denuclearization” following his historic summit in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. “So do I, as progress is happening,” Pompeo added without elaborating.
But America’s top diplomat warned that “when sanctions are not enforced, the prospects for the successful denuclearization of North Korea are diminished.”
Right now, Pompeo said, North Korea is “illegally smuggling” refined petroleum products into the country beyond the quota of 500,000 barrels per year allowed under U.N. sanctions, mainly by ship-to-ship transfers. U.S. documents sent to the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions and obtained by The Associated Press cite 89 instances between Jan. 1 and May 30 in which North Korean tankers likely delivered refined products “illicitly procured” via such transfers.
North Korea is also evading sanctions by smuggling coal by sea, across borders, through cyber thefts and other criminal activities, and by keeping workers in some countries which he didn’t name, Pompeo said.
These actions are all “generating significant revenues for the regime and they must be stopped,” he said. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley criticized “some friends who want to go around the rules,” and especially Russia and China for blocking the sanctions committee from demanding that all countries halt shipments of petroleum products to North Korea immediately. Moscow and Beijing said they needed additional time to investigate the U.S. allegations, and put a six-month “hold” on the U.S. request.
“Are they telling us that they want to continue supplying this oil?” Haley asked, standing beside Pompeo. “They claim they need more information. We don’t need any more information. The sanctions committee has what it needs. We all know it’s going forward.”
“We put pressure today on China and Russia to abide and be good helpers through this situation, and to help us continue with denuclearization,” Hailey said.
Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Dmitry Polyansky, told several reporters after the meeting that Pompeo confirmed the U.S. “will seek the full denuclearization” of North Korea. “We expressed the position that along with this, steps are necessary to meet Pyongyang,” he said.
“It is necessary that the denuclearization go step by step with parallel actions by the international community,” Polyansky said. “We are talking about easing sanctions pressure through the U.N. Security Council, as well as the removal of unilateral U.S. sanctions.”
At the historic summit between Trump and Kim last month, they agreed to work toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, without describing when and how it would occur.
Follow-up talks between Pompeo and North Korean senior officials in Pyongyang had a rocky start with North Korea accusing the United States of making “unilateral and gangster-like” demands.
Pyongyang for decades has been pushing a concept of “denuclearization” that bears no resemblance to the American definition, vowing to pursue nuclear development unless Washington removes its 28,500 troops from South Korea and the nuclear umbrella defending South Korea and Japan.
But Pompeo told reporters “the scope and scale” of denuclearization “is agreed to” and “the North Koreans understand what that means.”
“We need to see chairman Kim do what he promised the world he would do,” Pompeo said.
Haley made clear that Kim Jong Un must take action first.
“We continue to reiterate we can’t do one thing until we see North Korea respond to their promise to denuclearize,” Haley said. “We have to see some sort of action. And so until that action happens, the Security Council is going to hold tight.”
As for the broader international community, she said, “we ask you to hold tight as we go forward.” Dutch Ambassador Karel Van Oosterom said the Security Council made clear to Pompeo during the briefing that it wants to see “concrete actions and deeds” from North Korea to denuclearize.
Van Oosterom, who chairs the council committee monitoring sanctions against North Korea, told reporters: “I think for all of us it’s clear that the progress is in the talks so far, that the engagement is there and the discussions are taking place.”
“But we’re waiting for concrete actions and deeds on the ground,” he said after Pompeo and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha briefed the council behind closed doors at South Korea’s U.N. Mission.
Kang stressed to reporters before the briefing that North Koreans made “a clear commitment on complete denuclearization repeatedly and, of course, very forcefully at the Singapore summit with President Trump, and we will hold them up to that commitment.”
Van Oosterom said Pompeo and Kang delivered “a very clear message” at the briefing “that the political message to achieve complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula continues.”
He said a second message they delivered was that “to achieve that, full implementation of the sanctions is absolutely crucial.”
Japan’s U.N. ambassador, Koro Bessho, who is not on the council but attended the briefings, told reporters there were many questions and “I asked the Security Council to stay the course, and be united.”