“The threat posed by North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction program is gravely serious,” said Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Susan Thornton in Congressional testimony.
The Acting Assistant Secretary referred to North Korea’s nuclear testing as “an unacceptable provocation that ignores repeated calls from the international community for a change in North Korea’s behavior.”
The United States has developed a clear strategy for holding the North Korean regime to account. It includes forging an international coalition to apply diplomatic, economic, and political pressure on North Korea to bring the regime to understand the only path to peace, prosperity and international acceptance is to abandon its destabilizing missile and nuclear programs.
The U.S. continues to employ a multi-pronged strategy that includes sanctions against North Korea at the United Nations and unilateral sanctions on individuals and entities that enable North Korea’s illicit activities.
The U.S. continues to press countries around the world to fully implement UN Security Council Resolutions against North Korea and to harmonize their domestic sanction regimes with U.S. designations on North Korean and third-country entities. In addition, the U.S. is urging all countries to cut trade ties with Pyongyang to increase North Korea’s financial isolation and choke off revenue sources that finance the regime’s weapons programs.
At the same time, Acting Assistant Secretary Thornton stressed “we have no desire to inflict harm on the long-suffering North Korean people, whom we view as distinct from the hostile regime in Pyongyang.”
Even as the U.S. pursues denuclearization, deterrence remains a central part of the strategy. The THAAD missile system is currently being deployed to South Korea.The U.S. is also enhancing its trilateral diplomatic and security cooperation with Japan and South Korea.
The U.S. continues to work with China and Russia to improve the implementation of sanctions, as there is more to be done in maximizing international pressure on Pyongyang. Secretary Tillerson said it best when he called China’s support for the pressure campaign “notable, but uneven.”If China and Russia do not act, the U.S. will use the tools at its disposal.
The U.S. will continue to take action multilaterally and unilaterally to disrupt North Korea’s illicit activities.