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Summary of external news of North Korea this week

16:00 July 31, 2020

SEOUL, July 31 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of external news of North Korea this week.

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U.S. official reaffirms commitment to N.K. denuclearization

WASHINGTON, July 24 (Yonhap) -- A senior U.S. official has highlighted Washington's commitment to achieving the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea, the State Department said Friday.

David Stilwell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, delivered the position during a videoconference with senior officials from member states of the ASEAN Regional Forum on Tuesday, the department said in a press release.

The ARF meetings are among the few multilateral events attended by North Korean officials.

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U.S., dozens others accuse N. Korea of U.N. sanctions violations: report

WASHINGTON, July 24 (Yonhap) -- The United States and 42 other countries accused North Korea on Friday of importing more than the U.N.-permitted volume of refined petroleum and called for a halt to deliveries until the end of the year, according to a news report.

The group said in a complaint to the U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee that Pyongyang is estimated to have imported more than 1.6 million barrels of refined petroleum via 56 illicit tanker deliveries in the first five months of this year, Reuters reported.

Under U.N. sanctions, North Korea can only import 500,000 barrels annually. The sanctions aim to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

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Satellite imagery suggests uranium enrichment ongoing at N.K. nuclear complex: U.S. monitor

SEOUL, July 29 (Yonhap) -- Commercial satellite imagery suggests that North Korea is continuing activities possibly related to uranium enrichment at its Yongbyon nuclear complex, a U.S. monitor has said.

Regular appearances of railcars and what were believed to be liquid nitrogen (LN) tanker trailers at the uranium enrichment plant indicate that some sort of ongoing enrichment operations, according to 38 North.

"The continued reappearance of three to four specialized rail flatcars throughout the complex, and especially at the spur servicing these facilities, is evidence of some level of activity beyond caretaking," it said.

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U.S., Australia reaffirm support for N.K. denuclearization negotiations

SEOUL, July 29 (Yonhap) -- The United States and Australia have reaffirmed their support for denuclearization negotiations with North Korea and commitment to sanctions against the communist regime's nuclear and missile programs.

The two countries made the pledge after holding "two-plus-two" ministerial consultations between their ministers and secretaries of foreign affairs and defense in Washington on Tuesday (U.S. time).

"The secretaries and ministers affirmed their support for U.S.-DPRK denuclearization negotiations and their commitment to fully implement sanctions against North Korea to counter the threat to security and regional stability posed by North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs," they said in the joint statement released after the talks.

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U.N. rapporteur: Inspection of activist groups should not undermine efforts to improve N.K. rights situation

SEOUL, July 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's upcoming inspection of activist groups, including those run by North Korean defectors, should be carried out in a way that does not undermine their efforts to improve the North's human rights situation, a U.N. special rapporteur was quoted as saying Thursday.

Special Rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana made the remark during a video meeting with a senior unification ministry official as the ministry has been preparing to inspect activist groups to see if they are operating in accordance with their declared business purposes.

The inspection plans came after the ministry revoked the licenses for two defector groups accused of sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets in defiance of the government's repeated calls against such activity. North Korea strongly protested the leafleting and even blew up a joint liaison office last month.

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Pompeo reaffirms U.S. goal of N. Korea's complete denuclearization

WASHINGTON, July 30 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday reaffirmed America's goal of North Korea's compete denuclearization, amid stalled nuclear negotiations with the communist country.

The reaffirmation came during a Senate hearing where Republican Sen. Cory Gardner asked Pompeo if Washington still pursues the "complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization (CVID) of the Korean Peninsula."

"It does," Pompeo responded.

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EU imposes first cyber sanctions against N.K., Chinese, Russian entities and individuals

SEOUL, July 31 (Yonhap) -- The European Union has imposed its first-ever cyber sanctions against North Korean, Chinese and Russian entities and individuals for their involvement in cyberattacks or attempted cyberattacks against the regional bloc.

On Thursday, the EU slapped the sanctions, such as travel bans and the freezing of assets, on six individuals and three entities, including Chosun Expo, a North Korean company.

Chosun Expo is suspected of involvement in major cyberattacks around the world, including those against Hollywood film studio Sony Pictures Entertainment, as well as cybertheft from the Bangladesh Bank and attempted cybertheft from the Vietnam Tien Phong Bank, the European Council said in a document on the sanctions.
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