A stated objective of the United Nations Security Council is North Korea’s abandonment of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
“For the past 20 years, well-intentioned diplomatic efforts to halt these programs have failed” noted U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a speech before the Security Council.
The threat is becoming increasingly real for Seoul, Tokyo, and ultimately the United States, he said. “With each successive detonation and missile test, North Korea pushes Northeast Asia and the world closer to instability and broader conflict.”
“For too long, the international community has been reactive in addressing North Korea. Those days must come to an end,” said Secretary Tillerson. “We have said this before and it bears repeating: the policy of strategic patience is over. Additional patience will only mean acceptance of a nuclear North Korea.”
The time has come for all Security Council nations to put new pressure on North Korea to abandon its dangerous path, said Mr. Tillerson. “I urge this council to act before North Korea does.”
Secretary Tillerson proposed three new actions to begin immediately: “First, we call on UN member-states to fully implement the commitments they have made regarding North Korea. This includes all measures required in Resolutions 2321 and 2270.”
Second, the U.S. calls on countries to suspend or downgrade diplomatic relations with North Korea. Constraining its diplomatic activity will cut off a flow of needed resources.
Third, the Security Council members must levy new sanctions on North Korean entities and individuals supporting its weapons and missile programs, and tighten those that are already in place. Furthermore, Secretary Tillerson called “on the international community to suspend the flow of North Korean guest workers and to impose bans on North Korean imports, especially coal.”
China has an influential role to play, said Mr. Tillerson, as it accounts for 90 percent of North Korean trade. The U.S. looks forward to further actions that build on what China has already done.
Lastly, all options for responding to future provocation must remain on the table. “We much prefer a negotiated solution to this problem,” said Mr. Tillerson, “but we are committed to defending ourselves and our allies against North Korean aggression.”
It’s time to implement a new strategy to denuclearize North Korea.