The Trump administration is asking U.S. allies to cut back on the number of North Korean workers they allow in the country, in a bid to starve North Korea of money it uses to fund its weapons program.
That includes Kuwait, which reportedly has not cut back on the North Korean workers allowed in that country, even though the Trump administration hinted that Kuwait may soon change that policy in light of U.S. pressure.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Thursday confirmed that the U.S. is asking countries to cut back on the North Korean workers they allow in.
"A big part of our pressure campaign, as many of you know, has been saying to those countries — through a series of bilateral meetings that Secretary Tillerson here at the State Department has had with many of his counterparts — asking other nations to reduce the number of North Korean guest workers," she said.
"Those guest workers who are working in construction and other industries in countries around the world are getting that money, that money is going straight back to North Korea into its weapons program," she added. "That money does not go to the North Korean individuals themselves."
On Thursday, ABC News reported that while the U.S. has applauded Kuwait for cutting back on North Korean workers, Kuwait has done nothing to stop them from entering, working, and returning money back to the regime.
"There are no plans to expel North Korean laborers and Kuwait has never done so," Kuwait said in a statement to ABC.
Nauert said the U.S. believes Kuwait will soon issue a statement on this policy, but declined to say if Kuwait was about to announce a cut to the 6,064 North Korean workers now in the country.
"We understand that the government of Kuwait will be issuing a statement on those reports and their overall DPRK policy imminently," she said. "They recognize the serious nature of this issue."
"If they have 6,064 North Koreans, that is why it's an issue that's been brought to our attention," she added, adding that Kuwait was expected to announce some policy on this issue very soon.