Russian Federation and China on Thursday (Jul 19) put a six-month hold on a request from the United States to the UN Security Council to halt all deliveries of refined oil products to North Korea, diplomats said. North Korea doesn't independently publish figures on economic growth. Add North Korea as an interest to stay up to date on the latest North Korea news, video, and analysis from ABC News.
U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said on Thursday it was technically possible for North Korea to eliminate its nuclear weapons program within a year, but added that it was not likely to happen.
At the historic summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June, Kim agreed to denuclearization.
"We put pressure today on China and Russian Federation to abide and be good helpers through this situation and to help us continue with denuclearization", she said after the meetings.
Experts say years of increasingly tougher United Nations sanctions are having an impact on North Korea.
The move on July 19 by Russian Federation and China came after Washington last week asked a UN Security Council sanctions committee to ban further shipments on the grounds that fuel smuggling has enabled North Korea to already exceed a UN-imposed cap on its fuel imports for the year.
North Korea was one of the topics that Putin and Trump discussed during their meeting in Helsinki.
After Pompeo travelled to Pyongyang this month for talks to seek progress, North Korea complained that the United States was making "gangster-like" demands for rapid denuclearisation.
The administration has pushed back on those characterizations and said the talks between the two sides continue to move forward, with working groups established.
"The conversations continue. We're working on it. We have teams in place that are working very hard on this issue every day", State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said Wednesday.
Haley is doing heavy lifting in an effort to show the Security Council that North Korea is in "breach" of sanctions that cap the transfers of refined petroleum products at 500,000 barrels a year.
Pompeo said in the first five months of this year, there were at least 89 ship-to-ship transfers of oil - an evasive practice where sanctioned products are exchanged in global waters by ships that often hide or obscure their identity. They informed Dutch Ambassador to the U.N. Karel van Oosterom - who chairs the U.N. committee on North Korea sanctions - that they were requesting information on each of the 89 transfers, essentially delaying the "halt" on the illicit transfers that the USA wants.
On Friday, Haley said that no additional evidence is needed.
"The problem that we are encountering", Haley said, "is that some of our friends have decided that they want to go around the rules".
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has traveled to North Korea for discussions several times this year, reiterated on Friday that "strict enforcement of sanctions" should remain until the country denuclearizes.
"The path ahead is not easy, it will take time. But our hopes for a safer world for all of us and a brighter future for North Korea remains our objective, and that hope endures", he said.
If the path to get there is "not easy", it is "pretty straightforward", Pompeo said.
"They have made a clear commitment on complete denuclearization repeatedly and of course very forcefully at the Singapore summit with President Trump, and we will hold them up to that commitment", the foreign minister said. "The North Koreans understand what that means".