Russia ‘helpful’ in enforcing sanctions on North Korea – Pompeo
“Enforcement of sanctions is a continuing process. There have been many places, in which Russians have been helpful,” Pompeo told journalists after his meeting with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York, when asked about Russia’s role in North Korea’s denuclearization.
“Since the very beginning… Russians have done many things to enforce the sanctions and we deeply appreciate that,” the US state secretary added. He then went on to say that the “countries of the UN Security Council are united on the need for final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea as agreed to by Chairman Kim [Jong-un].”
Washington has been actively pushing for North Korea’s “fast” denuclearization since the summit between US President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. During the summit, Trump said Pyongyang should start the process “very quickly,” and that “a lot of people” would be sent to North Korea to verify it.
In June, Pompeo himself also defined what he called a 'tangible' time limit to achieve “major” disarmament. He said that Pyongyang should do it within 2.5 years.
In fact, however, North Korea’s nuclear disarmament started even before the Trump-Kim summit – at Pyongyang’s initiative. North Korea demolished its Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site in May.
Meanwhile, the US secretary of state expressed his concern that North Korea continues to “illegally smuggle” petroleum products, circumventing the UN-backed sanctions. Pyongyang allegedly illegally transferred petroleum products into the country “at least 89 times in the first five months of this year,” according to Pompeo.
He then warned that “when sanctions are not enforced, the prospects of successful denuclearization of North Korea are diminished.” He also said that “members of the Security Council and by extension all UN member states have unanimously agreed to fully enforce sanctions on North Korea and we expect them to continue to honor these commitments.” At the same time, he still urged other countries to “step up their efforts” aimed at stopping illegal goods transfers to North Korea.
Earlier this week, US President Donald Trump seemingly made a U-turn in Washington’s policy on Pyongyang’s disarmament, as he said that there is “no rush” on North Korean denuclearization for the US. He also said that the sanctions would remain in place for the time being but promised Pyongyang “big benefits and exciting future” in the end.
Meanwhile, Pompeo also praised Trump contacts with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He said that such “conversations are incredibly important” as well as “valuable to the people of the US” as he spoke of a recent summit of the two leaders in Helsinki. The US state secretary also expressed his hope that another meeting between Putin and Trump would take place this autumn.
North Korea was one of the topics that Putin and Trump discussed during their meeting in Helsinki.