“We do not seek a regime change; we do not seek the collapse of the regime; we do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula; we do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th parallel,” Tillerson told reporters Tuesday in Washington DC.
Despite repeated warnings from Washington that the US might resort to a military solution to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, Tillerson stressed that the US is trying to convey to the North Koreans that “we are not your enemy… we are not your threat.”
But, he said, North Korea continues to present an “unacceptable threat” to the United States, which forces Washington to respond. Tillerson however expressed hope that Washington and Pyongyang can resolve their issues through negotiations.
“We would like to sit and have a dialogue with them about the future that will give them the security they seek and the future economic prosperity for North Korea,” Tillerson said.
Negotiations with the North Korean government are possible as long as there is “an understanding that a condition of those talks is there is no future where North Korea holds nuclear weapons or the ability to deliver those nuclear weapons to anyone in the region much less to the homeland.”
While claiming that “only the North Koreans are to blame for this situation,” Tillerson once again voiced Washington’s long-standing position that China should pressure its neighbor to halt its nuclear ambitions. The United States and China share the same objective, a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, the US diplomat said.
And while Beijing has cut substantial economic ties in recent months with its neighbor, China believes the only way to solve the North Korean crisis is through diplomacy. However, the recent Chinese-Russian “double freezing” initiative – suggesting that North Korea stops its ballistic missile and nuclear activities while the US and its allies halt war games in the region – has been rejected by Washington.
Tillerson’s comments come less than a week after Pyongyang said it conducted a second successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). North Korea’s KCNA news agency reported that the Hwasong-14 reached an altitude of 3,725km (2,314.6 miles) and flew 998 km (620 miles) for 47 minutes and 12 seconds before landing in waters off the Korean Peninsula’s east coast Friday.
The Russian military, however, said the weapon was likely an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), citing data from its missile warning system.