Italy Says to Expel North Korea Envoy Over Nuclear, Missile Tests

October 1, 2017 Updated: October 1, 2017    

MILAN—North Korea’s ambassador to Italy will be expelled from the country in protest over Pyongyang’s recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests, Italian Foreign Minister was quoted on Sunday as saying.

However, Alfano also told Italian daily La Repubblica that Italy would not sever its diplomatic relations with North Korea because he said it was useful to maintain a channel of communication.

“The ambassador will have to leave Italy,” Alfano said.

“We want to impress on Pyongyang that isolation is inevitable if they don’t change tack.”

Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano (L), US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (C) and United Nations Special Representative for Libya Ghassan Salame leave after taking part in a a group photo with Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (unseen) at Lancaster House in London ahead of their meeting on Sept. 14, 2017. (HANNAH MCKAY/AFP/Getty Images)

The minister added that Spain had similarly declared the North Korean ambassador in Madrid “persona non grata”, while Portugal had severed diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.

North Korea is fast advancing toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland. It conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test on Sept. 3 and has threatened to test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Sept. 16, 2017. (KCNA via REUTERS)

On Saturday the United States said it was directly communicating with North Korea on its nuclear and missile programs but that Pyongyang had shown no interest in dialogue.

By Stephen Jewkes