NATO leaders urge continuation of 'decisive pressure' on North Korea

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO leaders on Wednesday called on all nations to maintain “decisive pressure” on North Korea, including by fully implementing United Nations sanctions, to persuade it to give up it nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

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The allies also expressed concern about Iran’s intensified missile tests and said the alliance was committed “to permanently ensuring that Iran’s nuclear program remains peaceful”.

The summit declaration signed by the 29 NATO leaders reiterated the alliance’s full support for the goal of “complete verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

It welcomed recent talks with North Korea by the leaders of South Korea and the United States “as a contribution towards reaching the final fully verified denuclearization of (North Korea) in a peaceful manner”.

“We call upon (North Korea) to fully implement its international obligations; to eliminate its nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare capabilities and ballistic missiles, and abandon all related `programs,” the statement said.

It also called on North Korea to return to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

“We call on all nations to maintain decisive pressure on (North Korea), including by fully implementing existing U.N. sanctions,” the statement said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledged at an unprecedented June 12 summit in Singapore with U.S. President Donald Trump to move toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but has yet to provide details of how or when he might dismantle a weapons program Trump has vowed will not be allowed to threaten the United States.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was in Brussels with Trump, held talks in North Korea last week aimed at agreeing a denuclearization roadmap.

On Sunday, he brushed off North Korean charges that he used “gangster-like” diplomacy in the negotiations and vowed that he would keep pursuing denuclearization talks with Pyongyang.

Pompeo also said sanctions would remain in place until “a final fully verified denuclearization” that he said Kim had agreed to occurred.

Trump suggested on Monday that China, North Korea’s neighbor and main trading partner, might be seeking to derail U.S. efforts aimed at denuclearizing North Korea, but said he was confident that Kim Jong Un would uphold the pact the two agreed in Singapore. [nL1N1U50JG]

Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Mark Potter