Spain expels North Korean ambassador

New York: The Spanish government has informed North Korea’s ambassador to Madrid, Kim Hyok Chol, that he must leave the country before the end of the month, officials said.

Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis announced that the North Korean diplomat was called to the Foreign Ministry on Monday to be informed of Madrid’s decision to declare him “persona non grata”, a move clearly linked to the nuclear and ballistic missile tests that Pyongyang has been conducting in recent weeks, Efe news reported.

According to the ministry, the Spanish government came to the conclusion that “it was necessary to take this step because those programs are a serious threat to international peace and security”.

Dastis, who is in New York to participate in the UN General Assembly, said that the decision was taken after “repeatedly warning the ambassador and (North) Korean authorities”.

The measure comes after North Korea last Friday launched a new ballistic missile that overflew northern Japan after harsh sanctions were imposed by the UN on the Kim Jong-un regime as a result of its latest nuclear test.

The Spanish government had reacted to Pyongyang’s ballistic missile test on August 31 by telling the North Korean envoy directly that it had decided to reduce from three to two the number of diplomatic personnel at Pyongyang’s mission in Madrid.

Meanwhile, the US hailed Madrid’s decision to expel the North Korean ambassador and called on other countries to take similarly decisive actions to apply the “maximum pressure” on Pyongyang.

A Department of State official, requesting anonymity, said that the US “praises the Spanish government’s decision to take this step to increase the pressure on the North Korean regime”.