- Thomson Reuters
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made a statement amid muddled White House policy on North Korea on Tuesday that seems at odds with other voices in the Trump administration.
“We do not seek a regime change. We do not seek the collapse of the regime. We do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula. We do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th parallel,” Tillerson said.
This parts from CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s statements at the Aspen Security Forum last month where he repeatedly mentioned separating nuclear “capacity and someone who might well have intent” to use it, referring to North Korea.
“We are not your enemy,” Tillerson said to North Korea. “We are not your threat, but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us and we have to respond.”
Tillerson pressed the idea that the US would like “to sit and have a dialogue about the future that will give them the future they seek and the future economic prosperity for North Korea but that will then promote economic prosperity throughout northeast Asia,” without mentioning the US’s goals in the dialogue.
In the past, the US has tried to engage North Korea in the hopes that the country would denuclearize, but with North Korea’s sweeping advancements in missile technology and its inclusion of nuclear weapons into its constitution, that seems increasingly unlikely.
Joel Witt, the cofounder of 38 North, a website that brings together experts on North Korea, told reporters on a press call on Monday that unlike past presidents, Donald Trump has a unique opportunity to make peace with Kim Jong Un.
“It’s really the best point in time for a US president to do it,” Witt said of peace talks with North Korea, referencing recent ICBM tests that show the US mainland is at risk of nuclear attack.
- Thomson Reuters
“Trump is insulated from any Republican criticism, which has stopped Democrats before. He thinks outside of the box. He might be the right person to do it,” said Witt, who also admitted he could not predict the outcome.
Tillerson seemed to acknowledge that the US is now willing to live with a nuclear-armed North Korea and even make security guarantees toward the Kim regime, one of the worst human rights offenders on the planet, to stop the threat of a nuclear conflict.