National Security

Tillerson On North Korean Pressure Campaign: ‘If This Fails, We Don’t Have Many Good Options Left’


Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday that if America’s “peaceful pressure” campaign against North Korea doesn’t work, then the U.S. won’t “have many good options left.”

The comments from Tillerson came after he and President Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. Tillerson told reporters after the meeting that the subject of North Korea’s continued missile testing came up in their conversations.

“I would say the Russians see it a little differently than we do,” the secretary of state said. Russia recently opposed a U.N. resolution put forward by the U.S. to place additional sanctions on North Korea, and has questioned whether the weapon North Korea tested Monday was actually an intercontinental ballistic missile.

“I would also hasten to add, Russia’s official policy is the same as ours, a denuclearized Korean peninsula,” Tillerson stated. “There is a difference in terms of view around tactics and peace and so we will continue to work with them to see if we cannot persuade them as to the urgency that we see.”

The Trump administration has tried to be more forceful on North Korea than the Obama administration, and Tillerson described this approach Friday as a “peaceful pressure campaign.” He said the goal of this is a “peaceful solution,” and “if this fails, we don’t have many good options left.” 

The pressure being applied on North Korea is through sanctions, as well as trying to cut off the flow of money to the hermit nation primarily through China.

President Trump has not been too happy with China’s efforts so far, and tweeted Wednesday, “Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40% in the first quarter. So much for China working with us – but we had to give it a try!” (RELATED: Feds Sanction Chinese Bank Linked To North Korea)

Tillerson told reporters Friday that the U.S. remains “very closely engaged with China” and that “our expectations are unchanged.”