Spain on Monday declared the North Korea ambassador to the country a persona non-grata and asked him to leave by the end of September, according to a statement from its foreign ministry.
The Spanish Government said the decision was made due to North Korea’s continuing weapons testing, despite repeated calls from the international community for the DPRK to fulfill its international obligations.
“Today the DPRK Ambassador has been summoned, the position of the Spanish government has been reiterated and the decision to consider him a persona non grata has been communicated to him, so he must cease his duties and leave the country before September 30,” the Spanish Foreign Ministry statement reads, though the move was also announced on social media.
— SpainMFA ?? (@SpainMFA) September 18, 2017
The Spanish Government told the local North Korean Embassy to reduce the number of staff in the country on September 1, but since then North Korea conducted a nuclear test and launched a missile over Japan, further spiking tensions in the region.
Ambassador Kim Hyok Chol began working in Spain in 2014, prior to which he was working in the Sudan and Ethopia. Kim was also the first ambassador to Spain, with the North Korean Embassy opening in February 2014.
“Before that, he was in Africa as ambassador to Ethiopia, also representing the DPRK to Sudan and to the African Union.” NK News director of intelligence John Grisafi said.
Kim is the fourth North Korean ambassador asked to leave his position this month. The Kuwaiti Government said on Sunday it would reduce staff at the local DPRK Embassy, a measure which would also include the ambassador.
“I’m sure North Korea dislikes the expulsions, but their official view or response is that these countries are toadies of the U.S. who have implemented the expulsions under pressure from the Americans,” Daniel Pinkston, a North Korea watcher at Troy University told NK News.
“But in practical terms, I think they view it as a short-term cost they can ride out.”
The announcement comes as two countries in Latin America recently announced that they would expel their North Korean ambassadors in response to the DPRK’s sixth nuclear test on September 3.