Tillerson confronts North Korean diplomat at UN

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the UN Security Council on Friday that North Korea must cease all threatening b...

Posted: Dec 16, 2017 10:18 AM
Updated: Dec 16, 2017 10:18 AM

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the UN Security Council on Friday that North Korea must cease all threatening behavior before talks with the US can begin, omitting to mention his earlier offer of talks without preconditions.

Tillerson earlier in the week said he was willing to start talks with Pyongyang without preconditions, appearing to reveal another rift between the State Department and the White House, where staffers said they were caught off guard by his offer.

North Korea's ambassador described his country's nuclear program as an "inevitable self-defense measure"

Tillerson said there's no 'daylight between the President's policy and the pursuit of that policy' on North Korea

"As I said earlier this week, a sustained cessation of North Korea's threatening behavior must occur before talks can begin," Tillerson told the UN meeting, which was convened to discuss Pyongyang's denuclearization, adding that "North Korea must earn its way back to the table."

The top US diplomat said that the US, "will in the meantime keep our channels of communication open." And he acknowledged the presence of a high level North Korea representative in the room. "I, too, welcome the attendance of the representative of North Korea so that we have the opportunity to speak directly to their representative as well," he said.

But he did not say a line that had appeared in his prepared comments, distributed by the State Department on embargo earlier in the day. Tillerson had been set to say that, "apart from that step, there are no preconditions for talks, nor will we accept pre-conditions from North Korea or others."

Asked about the omission, the State Department's Undersecretary of Public Affairs Steve Goldstein said that, "nobody took that out for him. The Secretary doesn't speak word for word from prepared remarks and works to deliver the words that will be the most impactful to the audience he is addressing."

Tillerson did double down on the administration's tough talk, even as other countries warned that US rhetoric and actions are part of the problem.

"We have been clear that all options remain on the table in the defense of our nation, but we do not seek, nor do we want, war with North Korea," Tillerson said. "The United States will use all necessary measures to defend itself against North Korean aggression, but our hope remains that diplomacy will produce a resolution."

But Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya said, "it should be clear to everybody that the DPRK is hardly going to refrain from its nuclear missile program while it feels a direct threat to its security."

Referring to joint military drills the US conducts with South Korea, Nebenzya said, "indeed this is how Pyongyang evaluates the regular widescale maneuvers and exercises by the United States and its allies in the region."

"In the conditions of such tension, one ill thought out or misinterpreted step could lead to lamentable consequences," the Russian said, warning of a "policy of mutual pressure and intimidation."

He challenged Tillerson, questioning the US commitment to finding a peaceful resolution. He noted that after about two months of quiet on North Korea's part, the US held massive military drills with South Korea and then announced it was placing Pyongyang on a list of state sponsors of terrorism.

"All of these steps force us to wonder about the sincerity of statements that suggest that there is a preference for a peaceful approach to resolving the crisis in DPRK," Nebenzya said.

China's ambassador echoed Russia's rebukes. "The current situation on the peninsula is not caused by any one party alone and it's unfair to impose on any one partner the responsibility" for resolving it, said China's Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Amb. Wu Haitao. He called for dialogue, an end to US military exercises, and an end to "mutual blaming."

Tillerson rejected the argument that the US bore any blame, saying, "there is but one party that has carried out illegal detonation of illegal devices, there is but one party that launches intercontinental ballistic missiles ... that is the Kim regime in North Korea."

"They alone are responsible for these tensions, they alone must take responsibility for these tensions, and they alone can solve these tensions," Tillerson said.

Tillerson made clear that there would be no let-up in his campaign to squeeze North Korea and steadily choke off its diplomatic channels and means of financial support. That campaign, he said, must be given time to succeed.

"North Korea's growing capabilities reflect a direct threat to our security and the security of the entire world," Tillerson said. "We do not regard this claim as an empty threat. In the face of such a threat, inaction is unacceptable for any nation."

The US is even more determined to continue its peaceful pressure campaign, Tillerson said, with the goal of "setting the conditions for North Korea to engage in serious negotiations toward the complete, verifiable, and irreversible abandonment of its nuclear weapons programs."

The top US diplomat, who met Thursday with Trump and Defense Secretary James Mattis, urged countries in the room to do more than just meet the letter of UN Security Council resolutions sanctioning North Korea -- and called out Moscow and Beijing in particular.

"Continuing to allow North Korean laborers to toil in slave-like conditions inside Russia in exchange for wages used to fund nuclear weapons programs calls into question Russia's dedication as a partner for peace," Tillerson said.

"Similarly, as Chinese crude oil flows to North Korean refineries, the United States questions China's commitment to solving an issue that has serious implications for the security of its own citizens," he added.

Tillerson extended that challenge to other countries that have been slow to fully implement existing resolutions on North Korea, saying that it calls "into question whether your vote is a commitment to words only, but not actions."

Rising tensions between the US and North Korea, which conducted its largest nuclear test in September and fired off a powerful ICBM in late November, have raised deep concern worldwide.

It is "the most tense and dangerous security situation in the world today," UN Security General Antonio Guterres told the UN as the meeting opened. Guterres said he was concerned about "unintended escalation or miscalculation," which he said was being increased by "misplaced confidence, dangerous narratives and the lack of communications channels."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 118322

Reported Deaths: 3591
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21502767
Lake10688323
Elkhart6707111
St. Joseph6619113
Allen6330205
Hamilton4938109
Vanderburgh378131
Hendricks2766124
Monroe265536
Tippecanoe256613
Johnson2352124
Clark225957
Porter219947
Delaware200162
Cass19559
Vigo186827
Madison170375
LaPorte149141
Floyd139664
Warrick138242
Howard132663
Kosciusko125917
Bartholomew118457
Marshall101524
Dubois99919
Boone99146
Grant95134
Hancock94643
Noble93132
Henry81226
Jackson7739
Wayne77014
Morgan73438
Daviess68028
Shelby68029
Dearborn67528
LaGrange64011
Clinton62314
Harrison59224
Putnam58411
Gibson5355
Knox5289
Lawrence51629
Montgomery51121
DeKalb48811
White48714
Decatur45939
Miami4394
Greene42735
Fayette42313
Jasper4012
Scott39011
Steuben3907
Posey3460
Sullivan33812
Jennings31612
Franklin31325
Clay3085
Ripley3078
Orange28824
Whitley2826
Carroll27813
Adams2763
Wabash2728
Starke2717
Washington2701
Wells2674
Spencer2633
Jefferson2503
Huntington2473
Fulton2442
Tipton22822
Randolph2238
Perry22113
Jay1920
Newton17411
Owen1711
Martin1680
Pike1641
Rush1574
Vermillion1310
Fountain1292
Blackford1213
Pulaski1141
Crawford1100
Parke1072
Brown1043
Benton870
Ohio797
Union790
Switzerland690
Warren411
Unassigned0226

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 151802

Reported Deaths: 4746
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin27119607
Cuyahoga17554656
Hamilton13237315
Montgomery7938164
Lucas7343364
Butler6085111
Summit5366252
Warren311549
Marion311147
Mahoning3095281
Stark2913175
Pickaway267944
Lorain233386
Delaware230621
Fairfield213253
Licking194963
Columbiana194080
Wood192172
Trumbull1916132
Clark183940
Clermont174423
Lake164851
Greene149034
Medina147539
Miami146351
Allen146269
Portage116866
Mercer113218
Erie95947
Tuscarawas94120
Wayne94068
Richland92219
Ross89624
Madison84312
Darke80643
Geauga72649
Athens7242
Belmont72427
Hancock72010
Lawrence67122
Ashtabula66048
Shelby66010
Putnam61923
Auglaize6119
Sandusky58020
Huron5557
Union5512
Scioto5167
Seneca48814
Ottawa47130
Preble44515
Muskingum4383
Holmes3959
Jefferson3384
Henry33414
Defiance33012
Champaign3133
Logan3133
Clinton30213
Perry3009
Brown2922
Knox28815
Washington26223
Jackson2616
Morrow2612
Fulton2591
Hardin25713
Crawford2476
Ashland2464
Coshocton23411
Fayette2336
Highland2303
Williams2143
Wyandot21312
Pike2020
Gallia19613
Meigs17610
Guernsey1738
Hocking1679
Carroll1527
Adams1364
Van Wert1243
Monroe11018
Paulding1100
Harrison643
Morgan500
Vinton473
Noble340
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 42°
Angola
Clear
45° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 42°
Huntington
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 43°
Decatur
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 43°
Van Wert
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 43°
Fall-like Tuesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events