'Under no circumstances' will we stop building nukes

Frederick Owens
August 13, 2017

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Manila for the ASEAN foreign ministers' meeting.

The question of whether Beijing would go along with much harsher sanctions against North Korea was answered this weekend.

On Monday, Tillerson is scheduled to meet with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and will likely raise the issue of human rights in the country where a brutal crackdown on drugs has left more than 7,000 dead, Thornton said last week.

Communication channels between the divided Koreas - which are still technically at war since the 1950-53 conflict did not end in a peace treaty but only an armistice agreement - have been completely sealed off recently, because of North Korea's repeated missile launches. He says he won't give a concrete timeframe but that the USA will "know it when we see it". Even with new United Nations sanctions in place meant to drive Pyongyang back to the table, conditions still aren't ripe for talks, USA diplomats said. He's not specifying what those are. South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha expressed hope the two could talk. He's meeting with regional partners, including Russian Federation and China, just days after North Korea tested its second intercontinental ballistic missile in a month.

North Korea said the sanctions infringed its sovereignty and it was ready to give Washington a "severe lesson" with its strategic nuclear force in response to any USA military action.

In their first meeting since Kono took up his new post in last week's Cabinet reshuffle, he and Tillerson agreed to hold the next round of four-way security talks between their foreign and defense ministers "at an early date", according to the Japanese official. "First primarily, geographically the Korean Peninsula is very close to us". Instead, the US was represented at the dinner by Thornton, whose official title is acting assistant secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs.

North Korea can show it's ready for negotiations by stopping missile launches, Tillerson says. The North also sent its Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho to the annual meeting.

North Korea is rejecting worldwide demands that it discontinue its nuclear and missile testing programs and instead of taking a softer tone, it's taking a tougher stance. She hailed the resolution as the "single largest economic sanctions package ever leveled against the North Korean regime".

Still, this is a legitimate diplomatic victory for the Trump administration, albeit an incremental one.

"In addition to supporting ostensibly legitimate businesses like ginseng sales and restaurants, these embassies act as control centers for the North's regional smuggling networks and other plainly illicit operations", King said.

Duterte's statement came amid the standoff between the United States and North Korea over the Korean peninsula.

"The United Nations Security Council Resolution 2371 was created under forceful US demand, and violates the right of self-determination, right to existence".

"A precision blow is the essential part of sanctions", it said. He cited the "very big financial impact" of the sanctions and noted optimistically that both China and Russian Federation had joined in the unanimous vote.

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China has suggested the US and South Korea halt joint military exercises in exchange for a halt to North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile testing.

Wang said he urged Ri to adhere to United Nations resolutions and stop provoking the "international community's goodwill" with missile launches and nuclear tests.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gathering came a day after the United Nations imposed tough new sanctions on Pyongyang for its nuclear and missile programs and less than a week after Tillerson vowed that the US has no intention of overthrowing the dictatorship of Kim Jong Un.

"Do not violate the U.N.'s decision or provoke global society's goodwill by conducting missile launching or nuclear tests", Wang said he told North Korea's Ri.

"The Chinese side urged the North Korean side to calmly handle the resolutions the U.N. Security Council just made towards North Korea and to not do anything unbeneficial towards the worldwide community such as a nuclear test".

Critics say the most realistic solution to the North Korean issue is to resume six-party talks, in which the U.S., China, Russia, Japan and both Koreas discussed ways to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

Trump's initial optimism about China's willingness to help gave way to public exasperation, with Trump saying Chinese President Xi Jinping had "tried" but that it "has not worked out".

Yet despite deeming North Korea a top security threat, the young Trump administration has struggled to find a strategy that differs significantly from what the USA has tried in the past.

U.S. President Donald Trump praised other nations for addressing North Korea's missile program in a post on Twitter.

Pyongyang also clarified that the nuclear program was prepared against a possible threat from the US, but it is ready to go on the offensive against countries that join the U.S.

Tillerson said he asked Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov "several clarifying questions" and said the USA will respond by September 1.

The ASEAN statement plays to USA interests while using language that's conciliatory enough to protect its members' ties with North Korea.

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