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This is not a conflict between the United States and the DPRK – this is a long-brewing conflict between North Korea and the international community in order to break the nuclear nonproliferation regime for aggressive purposes.
North Korea responded to attempts by the United States and China to defuse tensions and avoid a military clash with a new provocation.
Early in the morning on Saturday, April 29 (local time and at night-Moscow time), the DPRK tried to conduct another – and again unsuccessful – test of an intermediate-range ballistic missile. It self-destructed a few minutes after launch.
Earlier, on Thursday, April 27, China informed the United States that it had issued an ultimatum to Pyongyang: to completely stop the supply of any goods to the DPRK in the event of a new nuclear test. Imports from China account for 90% of North Korea's total imports, including 500,000 tons of crude oil annually (the rest comes from Russia). Americans believe that of all the countries, China has the most effective leverage over North Korea, and that if anyone can force the North Korean leader to abandon the continuation of the nuclear missile program, it is China. In this regard, at the same time, on Thursday, President Trump in an interview with Reuters praised the actions of Beijing and Xi Jinping personally, noting that he was “making very persistent efforts.” “I know,” Trump added, ” that he wants to do something. He might not be able to do it. But I think he wants to do something.” At the same time, Trump acknowledged that the United States is facing “a very, very large conflict.”
But China is afraid of the collapse of the North Korean regime in the event of increased economic pressure on it, the flow of refugees across the border and the subsequent increase in the political weight and economic role of South Korea in the region.
The fact that international sanctions against the DPRK provided for in UN Security Council resolutions do not work is confirmed, in particular, by the fact that Chinese and Russian-made components were found among the wreckage of another North Korean ballistic missile tested a few weeks ago.
It doesn't look like the Americans will respond to the missile launch with a military action right now. The frontier for them will be the launch of an intercontinental missile. At the same time, the Americans reserve the possibility of any response to provocations by the DPRK.
It is possible that the United States is taking counter-actions against the DPRK: a week ago, when a North Korean missile also self-destructed after another launch, former British Foreign Secretary Rifkind said that according to his information from several intelligence sources, the missile collapsed as a result of electronic interference from the US military. The Americans have not officially denied this information.
On Friday, April 28, at a meeting of the UN Security Council at the level of foreign ministers, Secretary of State Tillerson made a statement indicating that at this stage the United States wants to try to translate the conflict into a political and diplomatic plane and is counting primarily on China for this.
Tillerson offered to increase political and economic pressure on North Korea, but he also made clear that the United States will not stop its efforts until Pyongyang gives up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Here is the full text of Tillerson's speech in New York:
“Thank you, Mr. Secretary-General, for your very useful information. I will now make a statement in my capacity as Secretary of State of the United States, and I am grateful for this opportunity to address the Security Council.
In accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2321, the stated goal of this meeting is to abandon North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
Over the past 20 years, good-faith diplomatic efforts to stop these programs have failed. Only if they are first dismantled will peace, stability and economic prosperity for all be possible in Northeast Asia.
With each new missile explosion and test, North Korea is pushing Northeast Asia and the world into instability and major conflict.
The threat of a North Korean nuclear strike on Seoul or Tokyo is real.
And it may only be a matter of time before North Korea gains the ability to strike at the US mainland.
In fact, the DPRK has repeatedly stated its plans to launch such a strike. Given such rhetoric, the United States cannot stand idly by. Similarly, other members of this Council whose territory is located in the zone of destruction of North Korean missiles cannot stand aside.
By demonstrating over the years behaviors that defy numerous UN Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 2321 and 2270, and that erode international progress on the issue of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, North Korea does not give reason to believe that it will change its behavior under existing multilateral sanctions.
For too long, the international community has been passive towards North Korea. This period should come to an end.
Failure to answer the world's most pressing security question can have disastrous consequences.
We have said this before, and we are ready to repeat it: the policy of strategic patience is over. Further patience will only mean recognition of North Korea's nuclear status.
The longer we delay, the faster it will end.
In light of the growing threat, it is time for all of us to put new pressure on North Korea to abandon its dangerous path.
I urge the Council to take action before North Korea takes its own.
We must work together to develop a new approach and put more diplomatic and economic pressure on the North Korean regime.
These new efforts that the United States is making are driven by our national security concerns, and they are supported by many countries that are concerned about their own security and wonder why North Korea is clinging to nuclear capabilities that it doesn't need.
Our goal is not regime change. Nor do we want to threaten the North Korean people or destabilize the Asia-Pacific region. For several years, we have withdrawn our nuclear weapons from South Korea and offered assistance to North Korea as proof of our intention to de-escalate the situation and normalize relations. Since 1995. The United States has provided $1.3 billion in aid to North Korea, and we plan to resume such assistance as soon as the DPRK begins to dismantle its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
For its part, the DPRK must dismantle its nuclear missile programs if it is to achieve the security, economic development and international recognition it seeks. North Korea must understand that recklessness is never respected. North Korea must take certain steps to reduce the threat that its illicit weapons development programs pose to the United States and our allies before we can even consider negotiations.
I suggest that all countries take three actions, starting today:
First, we call on the UN Member States to fully implement their commitments to North Korea. This includes all measures provided for in resolutions 2321 and 2270.
Those countries that have not fully implemented these resolutions completely discredit the UN.
Second, we call on countries to suspend or lower the level of diplomatic relations with North Korea. North Korea is abusing diplomatic privileges to finance its illegal nuclear missile programs; restricting diplomatic activity would cut off the channel of necessary resources. In light of North Korea's recent actions, normal relations with the DPRK are simply unacceptable.
Third, we must strengthen North Korea's financial isolation. We must impose new sanctions on those entities and individuals of the DPRK that support nuclear missile programs, as well as tighten those sanctions that are already in place. The United States has a strong preference for countries and individuals to correct their own mistakes and behavior, but we will not stop at imposing sanctions on third-country entities and individuals that support the DPRK's illegal activities.
We must exert maximum economic pressure by cutting off trade ties that directly finance the DPRK's nuclear missile programs. I call on the international community to refuse to accept North Korean workers for work and impose a ban on imports from North Korea, especially coal.
We all have our share of work to do, but China, which accounts for 90% of North Korean trade, and China alone has unique economic leverage over Pyongyang, makes its role particularly important. The United States and China have had a very productive exchange of views on this issue, and we look forward to further actions that will strengthen what China has already done.
Finally, as we have already said, all options for responding to future provocations should be on the table. Diplomatic and financial measures of influence should be supported by a willingness to respond militarily to North Korean aggression if necessary. We strongly prefer a negotiated solution to this problem. But we will defend ourselves and our allies against North Korean aggression.
This new pressure campaign will be carried out in a short time frame and will be painful for North Korea.
I understand that some countries that have benefited from relations with North Korea in some ways may be reluctant to implement these measures of pressure on North Korea.
However, the catastrophic consequences of a North Korean nuclear strike outweigh any economic benefits. We must be prepared to face tough realities and make tough choices now in order to prevent terrible consequences in the future.
“Business as usual” – there is no such option.
There is also a moral side to this problem. Now all countries should understand that helping the North Korean regime means supporting cruelty and suffering.
North Korea is spending billions of dollars on a nuclear program that it doesn't need, while its own people are starving.
The development of nuclear weapons by this regime does not serve the interests of its own national security and the well-being of a people trapped in tyranny.
I call on the community of nations to help us preserve peace and protect human dignity.
On one of my first trips as U.S. Secretary of State, I looked across the demilitarized zone toward a hunted North Korea. Beyond this border, the people live in sorrow, frozen in time. The world sees the glittering facades of houses in Pyongyang, but this country has been devastated by oppression and hunger for the past 60 years.
Although the country's current living conditions are bleak, the United States believes in North Korea's future. The first steps we are now taking towards a future full of hope will be realized more quickly if other countries interested in regional and global security join us.
For years, North Korea has dictated the terms of its dangerous course of action.
It's time to take back control.
We ask Council members and all partners to implement a new strategy for denuclearization of North Korea.”