ABOARD U.S. GOVERNMENT AIRCRAFT Jan 18 (TNS): U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the United States is getting evidence that international sanctions are “really starting to hurt” North Korea, even as he accused Russia of not implementing all of the measures.
U.S. President Donald Trump told media in an interview earlier that Russia was helping North Korea evade international sanctions and that Pyongyang was getting closer every day to being able to deliver a long-range missile to the United States.
Tillerson told reporters the Russian failure to comply with the U.N. measures “primarily” concerned fuel “but some other areas potentially as well.” He did not provide details.
Nevertheless, Tillerson said he was confident the pressure would eventually bring North Korea to the negotiating table over its nuclear and missile programs. Pyongyang has carried out nuclear and missiles tests in defiance of U.N. and other sanctions.
“We are getting a lot of evidence that these sanctions are really starting to hurt,” Tillerson said, citing intelligence and anecdotal evidence from defectors.
He said Japan told a conference on North Korea in Vancouver on Tuesday that more than 100 North Korean fishing boats had drifted into its waters and two-thirds of those aboard them had died.
“What they learned is that they are being sent out in the winter time because there’s food shortages and they are being sent out to fish with inadequate fuel to get back,” he said.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in had attributed North Korea’s recent willingness to talk to South Korea to the pain of sanctions, Tillerson told an event at Stanford University in California.
But he later said he suspected Russia may not only be failing to implement some sanctions but “frustrating” some of the effort to press the North.
“It’s apparent to us that they’re not implementing all the sanctions and there’s some evidence they may be frustrating some of the sanctions,” Tillerson said aboard his aircraft while returning from Vancouver.