US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the government is “preparing” new sanctions to be imposed against North Korea, deemed a nuclear threat by the West.
The former ExxonMobil CEO made the comments among the State Department employees in the US capital Washington on Wednesday.
“We are preparing additional sanctions if it turns out North Korea’s actions warrant additional sanctions,” he said.
Tillerson further urged world states to respect UN sanctions already imposed on North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs, voicing willingness to use secondary sanctions against foreign companies that still do business with Pyongyang.
“We told them we’re watching what you’re doing, when we see you not implementing, we see companies, we see individuals that are violating these sanctions, we’re going to contact you, we’re going to ask you to take care of it,” Tillerson said. “If you can’t take care of it, or you simply don’t want to take care of it for your own internal political reasons, we will. We’ll sanction them through third-country sanctions.”
As tensions were running high between North Korea and the US as well as its regional allies over Pyongyang’s nuclear tests, the administration of President Donald Trump was “leaning hard into China,” in order to negotiate for stability in the volatile region, as Tillerson said after chairing a meeting of the UN Security Council on Friday.
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said last week that Beijing opposes any actions that violate the United Nations Security Council resolutions.
“As for what kind of actions China will take if North Korea conducts another nuclear test, it is a hypothetical question and there is much speculation about that,” he added.
Apart from calling for sanctions, the Trump administration has repeatedly threatened Pyongyang with a military response to new tests of missiles and nuclear warheads, and sent warships and a nuclear submarine to Korean waters.