Earlier this week, State Secretary Rex Tillerson raised some eyebrows when he stepped back from the administration’s fiercely-held position that any diplomatic talks with North Korea would only start after Kim Jong-un had dismantled his nuclear weapons program. This statement was even rebutted, though vaguely, by the White House at the time. Yet on Friday, Tillerson walked back his position while also calling on China and Russia to put more pressure on North Korea.
“Each U.N. member state must fully implement all existing U.N. Security Council resolutions,” Tillerson said. “For those nations who have not done so, or who have been slow to enforce Security Council resolutions, your hesitation calls into questions whether your vote is a commitment to words only, but not actions. For countries who have not taken action, I urge you to consider your interest, your allegiances and your values in the face of this grave and global threat.”
Tillerson specifically mentioned North Koreans working in Russia “in slave-like conditions,” while sending their wages back home, and Chinese oil exports being used as ways to make North Korea sweat. Referring to North Korea, Tillerson said the country had to “earn its way back to the table,” suggesting unconditional talks between the it and the United States were no longer an option. Earlier, Trump told reporters that he spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin about North Korea and that it was “very important” to get on the same page regarding the issue.