At U.N., Europeans urge North Korea to move toward giving up nuclear weapons, missile programs

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The five European members of the United Nations Security Council urged North Korea on Tuesday “to take concrete steps” toward giving up it nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.

The envoys issued a joint statement following a closed-door meeting of the 15-member council on North Korea after Pyongyang said it had test-fired a new submarine-launched ballistic missile last Wednesday. The discussion was requested by Germany, Britain and France.

The missile launch was the most provocative move by North Korea since it resumed a dialogue with the United States in 2018 and followed a string of other missile tests over the past few months. U.N. Security Council resolutions ban Pyongyang from using ballistic missile technology.

The European council members described these launches as undermining “regional security and stability, and they are in clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.”

“It is vital that the Security Council upholds its resolutions. International sanctions must remain in place and be fully and strictly enforced,” the envoys, including from Belgium and Poland, said in the statement.

North Korea warned the United States, Britain, France and Germany on Monday that raising the issue of Pyongyang’s missile tests at the U.N. Security Council would “further urge our desire to defend our sovereignty.”

The test last week came ahead of fresh nuclear talks between North Korea and the United States in Sweden. The working-level talks were broken off on Saturday after Pyongyang blamed Washington for inflexibility.

North Korea said in a statement on Sunday there was no way the United States would bring alternative plans for their stalled nuclear talks to another meeting proposed by Sweden in two weeks. It warned that it would wait only until the end of the year for the United States to change course.

The European Security Council members urged North Korea “to engage in good faith in meaningful negotiations with the United States, and to take concrete steps with a view to abandoning all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.”

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Bill Berkrot