Mexico expels North Korean ambassador over nuclear test

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Mexico, which is one of only a few countries in the world to trade with North Korea, on Thursday decided to expel the country’s ambassador, citing its recent nuclear test and its test-firing of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

A statement from Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said North Korea had committed “flagrant violations” of international law by conducting nuclear tests and launching ballistic missiles. It added that North Korea’s nuclear activity presented a “grave risk” to international peace and security.

As a result, the Mexican government has declared North Korean Ambassador Kim Hyong Gil “persona non grata” to protest North Korea’s nuclear activity. The ambassador will be required to leave Mexico within 72 hours, the foreign ministry said.

Kim Hyong Gil had served as North Korea’s ambassador to Mexico since June 2016, when he was welcomed by President Enrique Peña Nieto at the presidential palace.

Mexico is one of only a few countries in the world to do business with North Korea. Approximately 1.3 percent of North Korea’s import in 2015 came from Mexico, nearly all of it refined petroleum, according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC).

It was not immediately known whether Thursday’s decision would affect trade between Mexico and North Korea. The United States has in recent months called on other countries to end trade with North Korea and sever diplomatic relations.

North Korea carried out its sixth nuclear test on Sunday, leading to international condemnation and calls for tough new sanctions, including an oil embargo. The nuclear test followed rapid advances in North Korea’s missile program, including two tests of a long-range missile in July.

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