USA says efforts to 'denuclearise North Korea' have failed

Tomas Mccoy
March 17, 2017

North Korea has tested several ballistic missiles in recent months as it further defies United Nations sanctions against it, most recently in a launch which encroached on Japan's exclusive economic zone. Current policies include sanctions in punishment for Pyongyang's weapons tests.

"The level of spending that the State Department has been undertaking, particularly in the past year, is simply not sustainable", Tillerson said, explaining that current spending reflected the "level of conflicts that the USA has been engaged in around the world as well as disaster assistance".

Japan and South Korea both host tens of thousands of USA troops.

The Secretary of State Thursday offering an olive branch to North Korea, saying Pyongyang "need not fear" the U.S. He was speaking in Tokyo. USA president Donald Trump gave a swaggering response in January to threats from North Korea that it is developing a nuclear missile that could hit the United States, saying: "It won't happen".

Tillerson, the former oilman Trump chosen to head his diplomatic team, reiterated that message. Mr Tillerson seems to be continuing a long-standing USA policy of trying to persuade China to exert more pressure on Pyongyang.

The secretary of state also stressed that bilateral cooperation and trilateral cooperation including South Korea are "critical in addressing North Korea's nuclear and missile programs".

VIDEO Tillerson in talks with Kishida in Tokyo.

Tillerson's first China trip attracts the most attention as the two sides are finalizing details for the first summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his USA counterpart Donald Trump, amid media reports that it could take place in early April.

Noting that North Korea's nuclear weapons will be one of the major issues discussed during Tillerson's visit, some observers are saying North Korea issue could force changes in the US strategy of "forming partnership with Japan and South Korea to target China".

Analysts were hoping to use Tillerson's remarks as guidance on the options that the United States might consider in responding to the nuclear threat from North Korea.

USA officials have been spooked by North Korea's accelerating progress towards building an intercontinental ballistic missile that could threaten United States mainland cities.

North Korea has accelerated its weapons development, violating multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions and appearing undeterred by tough global sanctions.

"We do believe they have a very important role to play", Tillerson said of Beijing.

"They are taking territory or control or declaring control of territories that are not rightfully China's", he said, in remarks that might be welcomed by Japan and others who contest China's territorial claims. China vehemently objects to THAAD, over fears its radar could peer into China.

The budget proposes $37.6 billion for the State Department, including $12 billion for funding operations in war-torn countries like Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

The State Department Correspondents Association said it was "disappointed" by the change in procedure. "Clearly the level of spending that the State Department has been undertaking is unsustainable", he told the press conference.

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