A Common Goal: The Complete, Verifiable, and Irreversible Denuclearization of North Korea

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Secretary Tillerson and 18 other Foreign Ministers stand in two lines for a formal photo. Behind them is backdrop that says "Vancouver Foreign Ministers' Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula"
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson poses for a family photo with his counterparts at the Vancouver Foreign Ministers' Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula in Vancouver, Canada on January 17, 2018.

A Common Goal: The Complete, Verifiable, and Irreversible Denuclearization of North Korea

On January 16, the United States and Canada co-hosted the Vancouver Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula. The meeting brought together nations from across the globe to demonstrate international solidarity against North Korea’s dangerous and illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

In his opening remarks, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson addressed this common goal, stating that Vancouver attendees are now “joined by the entire international community in saying to the regime in North Korea we cannot and will not accept you as a nuclear state.” 

Secretary Tillerson also spoke about the pressure campaign against North Korea, and his goal for the ministerial.

“The purpose of our meetings today is to improve the effectiveness of the maximum pressure campaign and combat North Korea’s attempts to evade sanctions. The United States looks forward to hearing from all participants on how we can best do that.”

– Secretary Tillerson

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson flanked by (L to R) Republic of Korea Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono delivers opening remarks at the Korean Peninsula Summit in Vancouver, Canada on January 16, 2018.

One theme of Secretary Tillerson’s remarks was the threat that the North Korean regime’s ballistic missile and nuclear tests pose to international peace and security, especially to international air space.

An image captured from a planefinder.net live feed of global aircraft traffic on January 12, 2018 at 8:45am.

Citing Federal Aviation Authority statistics that 716 flights with 152,110 total seats were within 280 nautical miles of the November 28th North Korea intercontinental ballistic missile test, Secretary Tillerson concluded:

“North Korea’s willingness to launch missiles at any time presents a threat to people of all nationalities in the region’s air space each day. Based on its past recklessness, we cannot expect North Korea to have any regard for what might get in the way of one of its missiles or part of a missile breaking apart. This is to say nothing of potential technological errors associated with a launch that could result in disaster.”

– Secretary Tillerson

At the conclusion of the day-long ministerial, Secretary Tillerson participated in a joint press availability with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. In his remarks, Secretary Tillerson said that the ministerial participants “repeated a unified message that we have sent the regime before: We will not accept a nuclear-armed North Korea. All of us share one policy and one goal, and that is the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

“Today we discussed ways to further increase pressure on North Korea through more effective sanctions implementation and compliance, and countries came forward with proposals on how they intend to do that. We agreed that the need for UN member-states, especially China and Russia, to fully implement agreed-upon sanctions is essential to their success.

We discussed the importance of working together to counter sanctions evasion and smuggling. And we also issued a call to action to strengthen global maritime interdiction operations to foil the illicit ship-to-ship transfers.”

– Secretary Tillerson 

Secretary Tillerson concluded his remarks with a final call to action. “Our nations must remain united on sustaining pressure until North Korea takes concrete steps toward and ultimately reaches denuclearization.”

For full information on Secretary Tillerson’s trip to Vancouver, visit the trip page.

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