North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

DPRK Foreign Minister Meets with Iran Delegation at NAM

Pak U'i-ch'un (Pak Ui Chun), Minister of Foreign Affairs

KCNA reported 31 May on the return of Foreign Minister Pak U’i-ch’un (Pak Ui Chun) to the DPRK after attending the NAM [Non-aligned Movement] summit in Bali [Indonesia].  Jakarta Post reported about Pak’s meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi:

North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun looked confused, losing his way to the elevator after exiting the room where he had spoken with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi.

Journalists chased and barraged him with questions. Finally, Iranian officials escorted him out and he escaped on the elevator.

He refused to comment on what he had discussed with Salehi. Iranian officials confirmed that the two foreign ministers held bilateral talks on a number of issues.

“All I can tell you is that they met,” Ali Pahlevani Rad, a staffer at the Iranian embassy in Jakarta, told journalists outside the meeting room. on Thursday.

Both the Iranian and North Korean foreign ministers are in Bali to attend the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) meeting, which ends on Friday.

While both sides were tightlipped, speculation arose on whether the two countries’ top diplomats discussed nuclear issues. When the Syrian senior diplomat later met with the Iranian minister, both were also reluctant to talk to the media.

Jakarta Post later reported Salehi’s denial that Pak and he discussed nuclear or technology exchanges or sanctions:

While confirming his meeting with his North Korean counterpart Pak Ui-chun on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) conference here on Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi denied Friday that he has talked about suspected cooperation between Iran and North Korea on nuclear weapons and missile technology.

Separately, 120 NAM country members issued a statement calling for the total elimination of nuclear weapons after the four-day meeting.

“The ministers reiterated their deep concern about the threat to humanity posed by the continued existence of nuclear weapons and of their possible use or threat of use, and reaffirmed that nuclear disarmament remains the highest priority of the movement in the field of disarmament,” the NAM’s ministers said in their statement.

After meeting with Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, Salehi said that he had met with Pak, but denied that he and his North Korean counterpart had discussed exchange of nuclear weapon materials and missile technology.

“We just talked about economic cooperation,” Salehi said.

Marty said that he was unaware of the North Korea-Iran meeting. “In fact, I don’t have to know about that,” he said.

A recent report by a UN panel of experts said that North Korea appeared to have been sharing technology and expertise with Iran, which was a violation of sanctions.

Beijing blocked the publication of the review, which accused Pyongyang of breaching sanctions designed to tackle its nuclear weapon and missile programs, the Associated Press reported. “We refute such a report. We never break any regulations,” Salehi said.

The Guardian reported earlier that prohibited ballistic missile-related items were suspected to have been transferred on regular scheduled flights of Air Koryo and Iran Air, with trans-shipment through a neighboring third country. A number of UN diplomats accused that the third country was China.

KCNA reported about Pak’s meetings while he was in Indonesia:

DPRK Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun separately met and had talks with heads of Namibian, Iranian, Algerian and Cambodian delegations in Indonesia on May 26 and 27.

They are staying in this country to attend the meeting of foreign ministers of the non-aligned countries.

KCNA reported on 4 June that a new DPRK Ambassador to Indonesia was appointed:

Ri Jong Ryul was appointed as new DPRK ambassador to Indonesia, according to a decree of the Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly.

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June 2011