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GENEVA: A senior US arms control official said on Tuesday the only way for North Korea to achieve security and development is to abandon all of its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programmes.

The Hanoi summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un last month broke down over differences about US demands for Pyongyang to denuclearise, as well as Pyongyang’s demand for major relief from international sanctions imposed for its nuclear and missile tests, which it pursued for years in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.

“North Korea must understand that the only way to achieve the security and development that it seeks is to abandon all of its weapons of mass destruction, all of its ballistic missile programmes as numerous UN Security Council resolutions demand,” said Yleem Poblete, US Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance.

Poblete, addressing the United Nations-sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, also urged countries to halt any weapons or military cooperation with North Korea.

“You are violating UN Security Council resolutions that explicitly prohibit such transfers,” she said without naming names.

North Korea is considering suspending talks with the United States and may rethink a freeze on missile and nuclear tests unless Washington makes concessions, a senior Pyongyang diplomat said last week, according to news reports from Pyongyang.

On Tuesday, a North Korean diplomat said there was no justification for maintaining full sanctions on Pyongyang given that it has halted nuclear and missile testing for the past 15 months.

Ju Yong Chol said that US-North Korean differences should be tackled one-by-one in a phased way to build trust.

“Instead, they came up with the preposterous arg­u­­ment that sanctions relief is impossible prior to den­u­clearisation,” Ju told the Geneva forum.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2019