US Asks Nations to Stop Nuclear Spread 09/22 05:46
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appealed to the international
community, especially Russia and China, to stop the spread of nuclear weapons,
calling North Korea a case study of the failure to prevent rogue states from
obtaining weapons of mass destruction.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appealed to the
international community, especially Russia and China, to stop the spread of
nuclear weapons, calling North Korea a case study of the failure to prevent
rogue states from obtaining weapons of mass destruction.
U.S.-Russian relations are at a low point, but Tillerson recalled the
cooperation between Washington and Moscow during the Soviet era, despite their
Cold War rivalry, on measures to stop the threat of nuclear weapons
proliferation. And he said "we should do so again."
"We especially ask Russia to examine how it can better support global
nonproliferation efforts," Tillerson said. "If Russia wants to restore its role
as a credible actor in resolving the situation with North Korea it can prove
its good intentions by upholding its commitments to establish international
efforts on nuclear security and arms control."
As for China, he said Beijing's cooperation is essential to prevent "a
catastrophe" and conflict on the Korean Peninsula. If China truly wants to
denuclearize the peninsula, he said it should work "to put the kind of pressure
on North Korea that can change its strategic calculation before it's too late."
Tillerson said North Korea "is a case study in why nations must work to
preserve and strengthen global nonproliferation norms."
North Korea joined the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in the mid-1980s but
it "cheated" and was never held accountable, he said. It withdrew from the
treaty in 2003 and carried out its first underground nuclear test in 2006.
Tillerson said there were also lessons for Iran "which was on its own path
to develop nuclear weapons" and "seems keen to preserve for itself the option
to resume such work in the future," allegations strongly denied by Iran's
President Hassan Rouhani.
Tillerson spoke Thursday at a ministerial meeting of the U.N. Security
Council called by the United States on "the acute threat" posed by the
proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. It cited three
countries in a note to council members that have been targeted by council
resolutions --- North Korea, Iran and Syria.
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia took issue with the meeting,
saying a discussion on nonproliferation "should be general, not pegged to
someone's idea of 'pariah states.'" He said a U.S. "concept note" sent to
council members before the meeting "artificially links three country situations
which have absolutely nothing to do with each other."
He said "further prospects in the field of nonproliferation cannot be
considered in isolation from the overall security" situation. This means taking
into account all factors that affect security --- "first and foremost" the U.S.
deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense System, also known as
THAAD, and "NATO's joint nuclear mission."
Tillerson said the U.S. never mentioned "a trigger for accelerated
development by some states of weapons of mass destruction" --- the toppling of
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein whose country was invaded in the mistaken belief
that he had nuclear weapons and the overthrow of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi
who voluntarily renounced the development of nuclear weapons
"This doesn't in any way, of course, justify the DPRK's missile and nuclear
program, but to ignore the reasons for them is to be very short-sighted,"
Nebenzia said, using the initials of North Korea's official name, the
Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
During the council meeting, speaker after speaker including U.S. allies in
Europe and Japan spoke out in support of the 2015 nuclear deal that capped
Iran's nuclear program, which President Donald Trump is threatening to scrap.
Nebenzia expressed hope that "common sense will prevail in the end" and "the
irresponsible" attempt to torpedo the agreement, known as the JCPOA, will be
The Russian ambassador then said he had to correct his early statement about
North Korea, Iran and Syria not being linked.
"Iran and the DPRK today do find themselves linked --- because if the United
States does leave the JCPOA, this will be the worst signal we can send to North
Korea, Nebenzia said.
"In fact more intensive diplomatic efforts are now needed in the Korean
Peninsula and one needs to start now without wasting any timel," he said.
Russia and China again urged adoption of their freeze-for-freeze proposal
that would halt North Korean nuclear and missile tests in exchange for the U.S.
and South Korea stopping their joint military exercises. But the Trump
administration has rejected it.
China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the council it is "a practical way
out" and stressed that China had "made tireless efforts for settlement to the
North Korean issue."
He said sanctions are important "to promote a resumption of talks and
dialogue" in North Korea. He added that "it is necessary to exercise pressure,
as appropriate, if countries blatantly violate" agreements and Security Council
"But sanctions are not the panacea," Wang said. "Dialogue and negotiations
present the fundamental way out."