Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on the world community Friday to drastically increase pressure on North Korea, warning that failure to do so could be “catastrophic” and that the US is prepared to take military action against the rogue regime if necessary.
“All options for responding to future provocations must remain on the table,” Tillerson said. “Diplomatic and financial leverage or power will be backed up by willingness to counteract North Korean aggression with military action, if necessary.”
Tillerson, speaking at a special US-hosted UN meeting to address the challenge, called on member countries to take three immediate steps, singling out China as he did so and warning that countries that don’t comply may face consequences.
He urged nations to fully enforce existing sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, suspend or downgrade diplomatic relations with the already isolated country and increase its financial isolation by targeting countries and individuals that support its nuclear and ballistic missile program.
“The United States also would much prefer countries and people in question to own up to their lapses and correct their behavior themselves,” Tillerson said. “But we will not hesitate to sanction third country entities and individuals supporting the DPRK’s illegal activities.”
“For too long the international community has been reactive,” Tillerson said, telling the Security Council that the era of “strategic patience” is over. “The more we bide our time, the sooner we will run out of it.”
Tillerson said that the US would “much prefer a diplomatic solution to this problem” and stressed that the US was not interested in regime change or destabilizing the region. But he made clear the US is committed to defending itself and its allies.
“We must prefer a negotiated solution to this problem, but we are committed to defending ourselves and our allies against North Korean aggression,” he said.