Abe, Pence reaffirm North Korea sanctions amid doubts about denuclearization pledge

The United States and Japan said on Tuesday that they would uphold sanctions on North Korea to rid it of nuclear weapons. The announcement came amid fresh doubts about whether the North would fulfil its denuclearization pledge.

“Sanctions will remain in full force, until we achieve the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea,” US Vice President Mike Pence wrote on Twitter following a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo. “The US, Japan, and the world will accept nothing less.”

The US vice president also urged other Asian countries to maintain pressure on Pyongyang until the country has fulfiled its pledge to destroy its nuclear arsenal and close all of its nuclear facilities.

Doubts about North Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un promised denuclearization during a summit in June with US President Donald Trump. Since then, it has dismantled a nuclear test site and refrained from testing any nuclear weapons or missiles.

But talks between Washington and Pyongyang have stalled in recent months. That has bolstered concerns among US and Japanese officials that the North might be trying to convince countries to ease sanctions without completely dismantling its nuclear program.

Undeclared bases

Those concerns appeared to be justified after the Center for International and Strategic Studies (CSIS), a US think tank, said North Korea had failed to declare 13 bases housing mobile, nuclear-capable missiles.

In a study released on Monday, CSIS experts said the bases were scattered within the country’s mountainous territory and housed both long and short-range missiles capable of hitting South Korea and Japan.

The researchers used satellite imagery, defector interviews and interviews with intelligence officials to locate and identify the bases. They said the total number of undeclared sites could be as high as 20.

amp/msh (AP, dpa, AFP)

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