Secretary Tillerson Addresses Growing Threat of North Korea

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U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks during a high level Security Council meeting on the situation in North Korea, Friday, Dec. 15, 2017 at United Nations headquarters.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks during a high level Security Council meeting on the situation in North Korea, Friday, Dec. 15, 2017 at United Nations headquarters.

Secretary Tillerson Addresses Growing Threat of North Korea

On December 15, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivered remarks at a United Nations Security Council Ministerial Briefing on Nonproliferation and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in New York.

“North Korea’s growing capabilities reflect a direct threat to our security and the security of the entire world. We do not regard this claim as an empty threat. The North Korean regime’s continuing unlawful missile launches and testing activities signal its contempt for the United States, its neighbors in Asia, and all members of the United Nations.”

– Secretary Rex Tillerson

Secretary Tillerson commended the Security Council for taking a leading role in condemning North Korea’s unlawful nuclear and missile programs and imposing consequences. The Secretary urged each UN member state to fully implement all existing UN Security Council resolutions particularly calling on those nations who have not implemented them or done so with hesitation. The Secretary also called on Russia and China to increase pressure, including by going beyond implementation of the UN Security Council’s resolutions.

“For countries who have not taken action, I urge you to consider your interests, your allegiances, and your values in the face of this grave and global threat,” Secretary Tillerson said. "In the face of such a threat, inaction is unacceptable for any nation." Secretary Tillerson further underscored that more can and must be done beyond enforcement of the minimum requirements of the Security Council resolutions directed at the DPRK.

The Secretary also addressed the North Korean regime’s efforts to portray the international community’s sanctions as harmful to women and children, calling them hypocritical. “This is a regime that hypocritically spends billions on nuclear and ballistic missile programs while its own people suffer great poverty. The regime could feed and care for women, children, and ordinary people of North Korea if it chose the welfare of its people over weapons development."

“ The DPRK has a choice: It can reverse course, give up its unlawful nuclear weapons program, and join the community of nations, or it can continue to condemn its people to poverty and isolation. The regime in Pyongyang bears the ultimate responsibility for the well-being of its people.”

-Secretary of State Tillerson

As he concluded his statement, the Secretary reiterated, “all options remain on the table in the defense of our nation, but we do not seek, nor do we want, war with North Korea. The United States will use all necessary measures to defend itself against North Korean aggression, but our hope remains that diplomacy will produce a resolution.”

“Our message today is one that this body has heard before, and one that we will continue to repeat: The United States will not allow the regime in Pyongyang to hold the world hostage. We will continue to hold North Korea accountable for its reckless and threatening behavior today and in the future. We ask every nation here to join us in exerting sovereignty to protect all of our people. We ask all to join a unified effort to achieve a complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

-Secretary of State Tillerson

Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.com.

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