Despite claims coming from Russia and China about American aggression surrounding the Korean peninsula, the United States has continued to push for diplomacy after the North Korean test launch of what U.S. intelligence agencies have confirmed was a true ICBM.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued a statement on Tuesday calling for global support in the effort to dissuade Kim Jong-un from continuing his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and the means by which to deliver them, but this time, he went further – claiming that any nation that continues to provide financial support, or fails to fully implement sanctions, are helping the aggressive state to violate international law.
Global action is required to stop a global threat. Any country that hosts North Korean guest workers, provides any economic or military benefits, or fails to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime. All nations should publicly demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences to their pursuit of nuclear weapons. We intend to bring North Korea’s provocative action before the UN Security Council and enact stronger measures to hold the DPRK accountable.” Tillerson said.
“The United States seeks only the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the end of threatening actions by North Korea. As we, along with others, have made clear, we will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea.” He continued.
Russia and China, both of whom have maintained and even expanded, financial ties with Kim Jong-un’s regime during America’s calls for economic isolation, have decided to take a newly proactive position on the developing situation, releasing a joint document that calls on both North Korea and the United States to halt military tests and exercises, and come together for a negotiation.
The two sides propose that the DPRK (North Korea) as a voluntary political decision declares a moratorium on testing nuclear explosive devices and ballistic rocket launches, and the US and South Korea refrain from carrying out large-scale joint exercises,” the two countries’ foreign ministries said in a joint statement.
“Parallel to this, the opposing sides should start negotiations and affirm general principles of their relations including the non-use of force, rejection of aggression and peaceful co-existence,” the statement added.
The United States has repeatedly called on China to increase its efforts in pressuring Kim to end the development of nuclear weapons the Supreme Leader hopes will give him the leverage he needs to strong-arm trade negotiations with the rest of the world. China accounts for ninety percent of North Korea’s import and export markets, and serves as the nation’s only military ally.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated before that he would welcome warmer relations with North Korea, and the two nations recently announced the launch of a new ferry service intended to carry people to and from North Korea – though Russian officials have claimed the ferry is intended primarily to serve Chinese tourists, rather than foster stronger business relations between the two countries.
Although Russia and China are working to project themselves as the voice of reason in a rapidly escalating situation, their claims of good intentions actually serve as little more than an attempt to discredit America’s position in the region: by placing blame at the feet of both the U.S. and North Korea evenly, they continue to shift perception toward the idea that this is a matter of differing opinion, rather than an international crisis brought about by North Korea’s violation of international law.
Per Secretary Tillerson’s recent statement, both Russia and China could be accused of “aiding and abetting a dangerous regime.” China has been grudgingly slow in fully implanting UN sanctions on North Korea, and although they maintain sufficient leverage to enact real change, they have opted not to do so in order to salvage their relationship with Kim’s regime. Russia’s ferry service is also a perfect example of a foreign nation providing North Korea with “economic or military benefit” through increased business cooperation.
China, it was recently uncovered, provided North Korea with six timber trucks that were converted into mobile ICBM deployment vehicles, meaning North Korean nukes capable of potentially reaching U.S. shores can be fired from nearly anywhere within the nation, making them extremely difficult to track or target. China claims they provided North Korea with the trucks for their timber industry, and that it was North Korea that violated UN sanctions in the act of converting them for military use.
A diplomatic solution to rising tensions on the Korean peninsula may yet be forthcoming, but it seems likely that Russia or China, both seemingly more concerned with discrediting the United States than they are with ending the standoff, will not be responsible for it.
Image courtesy of the Department of Defense