US President Donald Trump has touted new sanctions the UN Security Council approved for North Korea, saying they will have a “very big financial impact.” The Security Council unanimously approved the sanctions on North Korea, including banning coal and other exports worth over USD 1 billion. The US-drafted measure, negotiated with North Korea’s neighbour and ally China, is aimed at increasing economic pressure on Pyongyang to return to negotiations on its nuclear and missile programs. Trump wrote on Twitter: “The United Nations Security Council just voted 15-0 to sanction North Korea. China and Russia voted with us. Very big financial impact!” Trump’s national security adviser, HR McMaster, stressed in an interview that aired earlier in the day that it is “impossible to overstate the danger” posed by North Korea.
In an interview with MSNBC’s Hugh Hewitt that aired Saturday, McMaster said Trump has been “deeply briefed” on the strategy on North Korea. Tensions have mounted with Pyongyang’s two recent successful tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles. McMaster reiterated the administration’s position that all options, including a targeted military strike, are on the table. Still, he acknowledged this “would be a very costly war, in terms of in terms of the suffering of mainly the South Korean people.” McMaster continued: “So what we have to do is everything we can to to pressure this regime, to pressure Kim Jong Un and those around him such that they conclude it is in their interest to denuclearise.” The comments came as Secretary of State Rex Tiller son was in the Philippines for a regional summit expected to focus heavily on concerns with North Korea.
Tillerson has no plans to sit down with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho at the event. Tillerson’s reluctance to sit down with his North Korean counterpart is despite his growing push for Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table with the US. Tillerson said this week that such talks would have to be predicated on the North giving up its nuclear weapons aspirations and that the conditions for such talks haven’t yet been met by North Korea’s government.