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State Dept: North Korea Is ‘The Number One Security Issue’ For The President

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Department of State officials said Wednesday that sanctions enforcement will be factored into how the U.S. deals with other countries.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order extending sanctions on Sudan Tuesday, which the Obama administration decided to lift in January of this year. While the move received little attention, this action speaks volumes about the current administration’s efforts to rein in North Korea.

In the relevant memo, the Department of State said that it is “ensuring that Sudan is committed to the full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea.”

“The implementation of Security Council resolutions in North Korea, and especially efforts to stem North Korean missile proliferation and financing activities, is a top security priority for the President,” a Department of State official said in a press briefing Wednesday.

“Trump administration has made it really clear that the number one security issue for them and for our new government is North Korea. And that is a global, top security issue,” a second official commented.

“We have made our position clear with the Sudanese Government, and even outside of the five-track plan and in our longer-term engagement, for a very long time, that they must abide by the UN Security Council resolutions with regards to North Korea,” an official explained.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley recently put the world on notice, warning that U.N. resolutions designed to prevent North Korea from developing weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them to distant targets will be implemented and upheld.

Sudan has a long history of military cooperation with North Korea, according to Andrea Berger, an associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute and a senior research associate and senior program Manager at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.

Intelligence revealed the country was in negotiations with North Korea for missile technology in 2009.

The U.N. Panel of Experts on North Korea revealed in a report in February that the North sent guided-missile technology to Sudan in 2013 in violation of international sanctions, and the Department of the Treasury sanctioned a North Korean official and arms dealer two years later for illegal cooperation with Sudan. The following year, the U.S. added two more North Korean individuals selling arms abroad to Sudan and other countries.

While the Obama administration had plans to lift sanctions on Sudan, despite evidence that the country was not upholding international sanctions on North Korea, the Trump administration may be taking a tougher stance.

“North Korea has not traditionally been part of the conversation over the circumstances in which those restrictions would be revoked,” Berger wrote, “It is now.”

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