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North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un executed his top negotiator and other officials, after charging them with spying for the United States as part of a “brutal” purge after the failed summit with the U.S. earlier this year, South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported on Friday, citing a source.
The U.S. and North Korea failed to make any progress in the summit in Hanoi in February, with the U.S. demanding denuclearization while Pyongyang wanting sanctions relief first.
Shortly after the failed summit, North Korea’s top nuclear envoy in the talks before the summit, Kim Hyok-chol, was shot dead at the Mirim Airport in March, alongside four other senior officials, on charges that they had spied for the United States, Chosun Ilbo reports today.
Kim Jong Un’s former right-hand man, Kim Yong-chol, was sent to a labor and re-education camp, while other officials and the interpreter for North Korea’s leader at the summit were sent to political prison camps, according to Chosun Ilbo’s source.
According to a diplomatic source who spoke to Reuters, there have been signs that some of the above-mentioned officials have been sent to camps, but no evidence was available showing that some had been executed.
The U.S. is trying to check the information of the report, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a news conference while in Berlin on Friday.
At the February summit, North Korea was demanding some relief from the sanctions before committing to steps to denuclearization, as UN sanctions are choking off its energy supply.
North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile program remains intact while the country continues to defy UN resolutions with significantly increased illegal ship-to-ship oil and coal transfers, a UN Panel of Experts wrote in an annual report in March. North Korea is using increasingly advanced and inventive techniques to evade the oil sanctions, including manipulation of vessel AIS transmission systems, physical disguise of tankers, illegal name-changing and other forms of identity fraud, night transfers, and the use of additional vessels for transshipment, the panel of experts said.
North Korea is also reportedly looking to renewable and other alternative energy sources as it is unable to procure enough oil, coal, fuel, and diesel under the UN sanctions.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.