German Foreign Minister warns North Korea it needs to act to end nuclear sanctions

By Michael Fischer, dpa

Seoul (dpa) – German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has offered Berlin’s support in helping to drive forward nuclear disarmament on the Korean peninsula, but warned that North Korea needed to act to end its atomic programme if the sanctions on Pyongyang are to be lifted.

“When the time comes, we stand ready to support the process that is taking place here,” Maas said on Thursday during a visit to the South Korean capital Seoul.

Maas said that Germany could bring in the expertise it gained during the negotiations on the nuclear agreement with Iran to the efforts to dismantle North Korea’s atomic programme.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un declared his readiness to denuclearize at a summit in June with US President Donald Trump.

But while Pyongyang has not carried out any missile or nuclear tests for months, Maas expressed scepticism about the reliability of Kim’s pledges to end the nation’s nuclear efforts.

“There have been far too many violations of international law and far too many disappointments in the past,” the German foreign minister said.

But he said the process was now under way and represents perhaps the best chance to resolve the decades-long conflict on the Korean peninsula.

“It may also be the last chance the regime in North Korea has,” said Maas, adding that is why there is hope.

However, North Korea needs to follow up the summit with action, he said.

Otherwise, there would be no moves to lift the existing sanctions on North Korea, which were imposed in 2006 in response to nuclear tests.

Maas was also asked whether Korea could learn any lessons from German unification about 30 years ago.

The foreign minister said that Korea and Germany were comparable on a limited basis.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha said that for her, the biggest lesson of German reunification was that neighbouring countries needed to be involved in the process.

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