[Editorial] Incoherent US message to North Korea chipping away at country's credibility

In the meantime, the United States will continue a campaign to pressure North Korea diplomatically and financially, he said, as North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations looked on.

Tillerson floated the idea of talks without preconditions earlier in the week during a "period of quiet" in North Korean weapons tests.

South Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun told the council that North Korea is "in the final stages of nuclear weaponization" and warned that if it can put a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile "it will fundamentally alter the security landscape in the region and beyond". "North Korea knows they're open, they know where the door is, they know where to walk through the door when they want to".

In a challenge to the global order, North Korea has issued a threat that it will become "world's most powerful nuclear and military state".

He said North Korean laborers were toiling in "slavelike conditions" in Russian Federation for wages used to fund nuclear weapons, while China was still allowing crude oil to flow into North Korean refineries.

The mention of "Two Fronts" is a reference to North Korea's theory of simultaneously developing its military capabilities, as well as its economy, which are both vulnerable to global sanctions.

North Koreans "alone are responsible for these tensions, they alone must take responsibility for these tensions, and they alone can solve these tensions", Tillerson said.

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China's envoy expressed concern about a hardening of positions, saying the current crisis "hardly makes one optimistic".

Pyongyang's assertion of ambitions to global supremacy came on Friday after Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the Security Council, "The situation on the Korean Peninsula is the most tense and risky peace and security issue in the world today". "The parties concerned should keep calm and exercise restraint", its deputy permanent representative, Mr Wu Haitao, said.

He made the comments as he discussed the possibility of the United States pulling its forces from South Korea in a bid to encourage China to overthrown Kim Jong-un.

It would also have to demonstrate a test of an airborne nuclear ICBM and then launch a missile from a submarine near the US.

The UN's political affairs chief, Jeffrey Feltman, returned at the weekend from talks in Pyongyang - the first visit to the North by a high-ranking UN official since 2011. He added, "As I said earlier this week, a sustained cessation of North Korea's threatening behavior must occur before talks can begin".

Since late 2016, the Security Council has slapped three rounds of sanctions aimed at choking off revenue to Pyongyang's weapons program, which the United Nations has described as the most risky security issue in the world today.

"It continues to be a diplomatically led effort", Mattis said.

  • Darren Santiago