America’s top diplomat says he’s seen evidence provided by China that indicates UN-imposed economic sanctions are harming the North Korean economy.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the sanctions are “creating some stress within North Korea’s economy,” based on U.S. and Chinese intelligence analyses.
“There are clear signs and the Chinese side has shared with us some of the signs that they’re seeing. We see certain signs with our own human intel and other sources we have,” Tillerson said, following a day of meetings between President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping and top officials from both governments.
Tillerson’s statement is the first official acknowledgement by the Trump administration that sanctions imposed on North Korea are having the desired effect.
Following a day of meetings with Chinese officials, Tillerson indicated that the U.S. and China share the same goal of a denuclearized North Korea, though some divergence on how to accomplish that objective remains.
“There is no space between both of our objectives,” Tillerson said, adding the views on how to accomplish their shared goal is “what we spend a lot of time on.”
Analyst comment: This would indicate the Trump administration is liable to continue pursuing a diplomatic, rather than military, solution first in solving the North Korean nuclear issue, though Trump has made it clear the military option remains. Also, as sanctions continue to bite, there is always the possibility that North Korean leader — in desperation — could lash out militarily as well, causing as much death and destruction as possible in one final act.
Why it’s on our radar: Information in this article helps satisfy Priority Intelligence Requirement 3: What are the latest indicators of a U.S.-North Korea war? Each week in our Strategic Intelligence Summary, we gauge the likelihood and scope of conflict with Russia, China, North Korea, and in the Middle East, and track the latest developments in each region. Subscribe here to receive our premium intelligence products prepared by Intelligence and special operations veterans.