US secretary of state issues new ultimatum to North Korea
16 December 2017
Just days after declaring the US was willing to talk to North Korea without preconditions, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivered a fresh ultimatum to Pyongyang. He ruled out any meeting unless it was preceded by a “sustained cessation of North Korea’s threatening behaviour.”
Speaking at the UN Security Council on Friday, Tillerson declared: “North Korea must earn its way back to the [negotiating] table. The pressure campaign must, and will, continue until denuclearization is achieved.” Pyongyang had a choice, he stated, either give up its nuclear weapons programs, “or it can continue to condemn its people to poverty and isolation.”
The Trump administration, however, is not simply threatening to maintain the present crippling sanctions on North Korea, but to launch a war of aggression against the small, economically backward state. Trump has repeatedly made clear that he will not tolerate North Korea developing a nuclear missile that can reach continental America.
Tillerson told the Atlantic Council on Tuesday that it was “not realistic to say we’re only going to talk if you come to the table ready to give up your [nuclear] program.” He offered to hold a first meeting with North Korean officials to talk about anything, including “the weather if you want,” in order to break the ice.
Tillerson was quickly pulled into line by the White House, which declared that Trump’s position had not changed, fueling further speculation that the president might remove the secretary of state.
Nevertheless, in a stunning about-face, the policy elaborated by Tillerson on Friday was precisely what he declared on Tuesday to be unrealistic. His only remarks underscore the…