U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has spoken strongly and called on the rest of the world to help force North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions. In a speech at the UN Security Council, Tillerson laid out three elements in containing the rogue state: strictly enforce existing sanctions, impose new ones and isolate North Korea diplomatically.
Tillerson also gave special emphasis to China and on what the Asian superpower can do in terms of using its trade links with its neighbors to influence Pyongyang to stop its nuclear arms expansion. Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, however, was quick to deny that China holds the key to solve the North Korea problem.
Tillerson also warned the UN Security Council in New York of "catastrophic consequences" if it did not act, warning that it was possibly only a matter of time before North Korea develops the capability to strike the US mainland. Tillerson said the U.S. is prepared to use military force if necessary.
Tillerson urged other countries to suspend diplomatic ties with the reclusive state and to isolate its financial institutions. The Secretary of State hopes UN members such as Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos will cut useful links with North Korea. Tillerson also accused Council members of not honoring fully the existing sanctions against Pyongyang. UN sanctions include a ban on selling arms, fuel, and other items that can be used for weapons-making to North Korea. Also included on the banned list are luxury goods including pearl jewelry and snowmobiles worth $2,000. All cargo entering or leaving North Korea must undergo inspection since last year.
Despite the existing sanctions, a recent UN study discovered that fragments from a North Korean missile test included electronics that could have only been sourced either from or via Chinese businessmen. The U.S. is enforcing separate, stricter sanctions against North Korea including a blanket ban on trade and a blacklist of anyone dealing with the reclusive state.Such statement is also being seen by experts as a notice to Chinese banks dealing with North Korea. Tillerson's statements and demands could only be seen as serious, especially since he has clarified the stakes: the new U.S. campaign is driven by its own national security considerations.
China keeps on insisting against military intervention in managing North Korea. Its foreign minister said that the use of force does not solve differences and will only lead to bigger disasters. China favors the "peaceful settlement" of the nuclear issue through dialogue and negotiations. China also has a standing proposal to halt Pyongyang's military program in exchange for a freeze on joint U.S.- South Korea military drills, which the U.S. has rejected, insisting that the nuclear program must stop first.
Just today, North Korea continued its belligerence when it test-fired a ballistic missile on Saturday, in defiance anew to the tough warnings of the U.S. The test appeared to have failed according to U.S. and South Korea officials, but that would already be North Korea's fourth successive unsuccessful missile test since March.