American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson began his first international trip since being appointed in Tokyo on Thursday, where he met with Japan’s foreign minister, Fumio Kishida. In his remarks to the press after their meeting, Tillerson placed North Korea at the forefront of his agenda, making remarks that are sure to reverberate throughout the reclusive Asian nation.
“I think it’s important to recognize that the diplomatic and other efforts of the past twenty years to bring North Korea to a point of denuclearization have failed. We have twenty years of failed approach.” Tillerson said to reporters on the scene.
Tillerson also pointed out that throughout those twenty years of “failed” efforts, the United States has provided North Korea with $1.35 billion in aid intended to encourage the nation and its leaders to abandon their pursuit of developing nuclear weapons.
In 1994, a deal was brokered between North Korea and the United States in which the U.S. agreed to provide the nation with aid and two proliferation-resistant nuclear power plants in exchange for an immediate halt and eventual dismantling of their nuclear weapons program. The deal dissolved in 2002, and despite repeated efforts in the years since, neither the United States nor its international partners have made any headway in discouraging North Korea from developing nukes, particularly since Kim Jong Un took control after his father, Kim Jong Il, died.