SEOUL - The top nuclear envoys of South Korea, the United States and Japan agreed Tuesday to work closely on fully implementing the latest sanctions imposed on Pyongyang by the U.N. Security Council along with unilateral measures taken by the three allies.
The agreement came at talks between Kim Hong-kyun, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs at South Korea’s Foreign Ministry; Joseph Yun, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy; and Kenji Kanasugi, director general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau.
The three officials are head delegates to the long-stalled six-party talks on ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
At a joint news conference, Yun said the latest sanctions resolution adopted by the United Nations on Nov. 30 is “a broad international consensus” that the international community will not accept the North’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
“The sanctions are the latest step in our ongoing efforts to convince North Korea that the only path to economic development and international recognition it claims to seek is by returning to credible negotiations on denuclearization,” Yun said.
He reiterated the U.S. position that it remains willing to hold “credible and serious denuclearization talks” with North Korea, but Pyongyang has not shown any signs it is willing to do likewise.
“Unfortunately, the DPRK response — an escalating pattern of ballistic missile launches, nuclear tests and inflammatory rhetoric — underscores it is not ready,” he said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The Nov. 30 sanctions include a cap on Pyongyang’s coal exports to China as a way of choking off major funding sources for the nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
In an unprecedented move, China said in a statement Sunday it has suspended imports of North Korean coal until the end of this year as part of the latest sanctions.
This year alone, North Korea has carried out two nuclear tests and launched more than 20 ballistic missiles in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
The six-party talks, involving the two Koreas, the United States, Japan, China and Russia, have been deadlocked since late 2008.
Tuesday’s trilateral talks came at a time when South Korea is facing political instability after the opposition-controlled parliament passed a motion last Friday to impeach President Park Geun-hye over an influence-peddling scandal involving her and a longtime confidante.
Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who is now the acting president, said all efforts will be made to maintain close cooperation with the international community to deal with the North Korean nuclear issue.
South Korea’s Constitutional Court will review the legality of Park’s impeachment within 180 days.