This Nov 29, 2017 file photo shows a general view of a UN Security Council emergency meeting over the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea at UN Headquarters in New York . (KENA BETANCUR / AFP)
NEW YORK - The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) maintained and developed its nuclear and ballistic missile programs throughout 2020 in violation of international sanctions, according to a confidential United Nations report seen by Reuters on Monday.
The report by independent sanctions monitors said Pyongyang “produced fissile material, maintained nuclear facilities and upgraded its ballistic missile infrastructure” while continuing to seek material and technology for those programs from abroad.
The annual report to the Security Council’s DPRK sanctions committee comes just weeks after US President Joe Biden took office.
A US State Department spokesperson said on Monday the Biden administration planned a new approach to the DPRK, including a full review with allies “on ongoing pressure options and the potential for any future diplomacy”
A US State Department spokesperson said on Monday the administration planned a new approach to the DPRK, including a full review with allies “on ongoing pressure options and the potential for any future diplomacy.”
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DPRK leader Kim Jong-un and former US President Donald Trump met three times in 2018 and 2019, but failed to make progress on US calls for Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons and DPRK’s demands for an end to sanctions.
In the past year, the DPRK displayed new short-range, medium-range, submarine-launched and intercontinental ballistic missile systems at military parades, according to the UN report.
It added that an unnamed member state had assessed that, judging by the size of the DPRK’s missiles, “it is highly likely that a nuclear device” could be mounted on to long-range, medium-range and short-range ballistic missiles.
“The Member State, however, stated it is uncertain whether the DPRK had developed ballistic missiles resistant to the heat generated during re-entry,” into the atmosphere, the report said.
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While there were no nuclear or ballistic missile tests in 2020, Pyongyang “announced preparation for testing and production of new ballistic missile war heads and development of tactical nuclear weapons.”
The DPRK’s UN mission in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.
The DPRK blew up tunnels at its main nuclear test site, Punggye-ri, in 2018, saying it was proof of its commitment to end nuclear testing. However, an unidentified member state told the UN monitors there were still personnel at the site, showing it had not been abandoned.
The DPRK has been subjected to UN sanctions since 2006. They have been strengthened by the 15-member Security Council over the years in a bid to cut off funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
READ MORE: ROK PM: DPRK, US should aim for initial nuclear freeze
The Asian nation imposed a strict lockdown last year amid the coronavirus pandemic that has slashed its trade, hurting an economy already burdened by international sanctions.
HONG KONG NEWS