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Trump: North Korea denuclearization efforts should continue

Trump: North Korea denuclearization efforts should continue
President Donald J. Trump said in a statement to the International Atomic Energy Association that the international community should continue to pursue final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea. File Photo by Shealah Craighead/White House | License Photo

SEOUL, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump said the international community should continue with efforts toward full North Korean denuclearization amid a stalemate in negotiations with Pyongyang that has lasted for more than a year.

Trump's remarks were part of a written message delivered to the 2020 International Atomic Energy Agency general conference, which commenced in Vienna on Monday.

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"We must ensure that Iran adheres to the commitments it made...with the IAEA to prevent it from ever obtaining a nuclear weapon, and continue to work toward the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea," his message read.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette also delivered remarks at the conference and said Washington was ready to resume negotiations with Pyongyang.

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"The United States remains ready to make progress toward the final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea, and we urge North Korea to join us in negotiations toward this objective -- thereby ensuring a brighter future for the North Korean people," he said.

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Relations between the United States and North Korea have stalled since a February 2019 summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, failed to produce an agreement on denuclearization.

The two leaders met again briefly in June of last year in the Demilitarized Zone that divides the Korean Peninsula, an event at which Trump made headlines when he briefly crossed the demarcation line into North Korean territory. However, the gesture failed to spark a new round of discussions and North Korea has since expressed little interest in resuming working-level talks.

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"Explicitly speaking once again, we have no intention to sit face to face with U.S.," Kwon Jong Gun, director general in charge of U.S. affairs at North Korea's foreign ministry, said in July.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said last week that there were indications North Korea was continuing to produce enriched uranium at its Yongbyon nuclear facility.

Grossi said North Korea's nuclear activities "remain a cause for serious concern" in a statement to the IAEA's Board of Governors.

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"The continuation of the country's nuclear program is a clear violation of relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions and is deeply regrettable," he said.

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After a 17-month hiatus, Pyongyang conducted over a dozen missile and weapons tests over the latter half of 2019. At the end of the year, Kim warned of a "new strategic weapon" coming soon.

North Korea tested weapons in March and April of this year, but it is unclear how much COVID-19 and recent damage from a series of typhoons have impacted the country's military plans.

Many observers are looking toward Oct. 10, when North Korea is expected to hold a large-scale military parade to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea. In the past, Pyongyang has used parades to show off its latest military hardware.

Satellite image analysis released Monday by website 38 North showed that practice is underway for the parade, which appears to include multiple-rocket launcher vehicles.

Analysts and South Korean officials have speculated that North Korea could test a submarine-launched ballistic missile around the anniversary date due to activity seen around the country's Sinpo South Shipyard.

North Korea's last nuclear test was in September 2017.

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