It has been on the list before but was removed in 2008 by the administration of George W. Bush as part of negotiations on its nuclear program.
The campaign to reinstate it intensified after the American student Otto Warmbier died shortly after he was released from North Korean custody.
Speaking to reporters at a White House press briefing, Rex Tillerson said the designation was meant to hold North Korea accountable for recent actions it has taken “including assassinations outside of their country” and “using banned chemical weapons”.
The secretary of state admitted that given existing sanctions it was “very symbolic” but also said new measures could “disrupt and dissuade some third parties from undertaking certain activities with North Korea”.
“The practical effects may be limited but hopefully we’re closing off a few loopholes with this,” he said.
Kim Jong-un continues to pursue nuclear weapons and missile programs in defiance of UN Security Council sanctions.
The North Korean leader has made no secret of Pyongyang’s plans to develop a missile capable of reaching the US mainland and has claimed to have developed a hydrogen bomb.
Last month, Defense Secretary James Mattis said that the threat of nuclear attack from North Korea was increasing.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that the US is in “direct contact” with North Korea.
He also said Washington was “probing” the possibility of talks with Pyongyang, “so stay tuned”.
During a trip to China, Rex Tillerson said: “We have lines of communications to Pyongyang.
“We’re not in a dark situation.”
In recent months, North Korea and the US have engaged in heated rhetoric, but it was not previously known they had lines of communication.
President Donald Trump has threatened to annihilate North Korea, saying Kim Jong-un, “is on a suicide mission”, which led the North Korean leader to release a statement vowing to “tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire”.
On September 30, North Korea continued the rhetoric, releasing a statement calling President Trump an “old psychopath” bent on the “suicidal act of inviting a nuclear disaster that will reduce America to a sea of flames”.
The war of words comes against a backdrop of repeated missile tests and North Korea’s claim that, on September 3, it successfully tested a miniaturized hydrogen bomb which could be loaded on to a long-range missile.
The tests were internationally condemned, with the UN bringing in sanctions against the secretive country in an attempt to force it to stop its weapons program.
Rex Tillerson is in China meeting with President Xi Jinping and other officials, hoping to encourage them to implement the sanctions.
China this week told North Korean businesses operating in its territory to close down. However, China remains keen to see negotiations with North Korea.
President Trump said last month that “talking is not the answer”.
However, there were reports of so-called back channels between the two administrations.
According to the Associated Press, the US and North Korea had been engaged in quiet discussions for months, with “diplomatic contact… occurring regularly” between the US envoy for North Korea policy and “a senior North Korean diplomat at the country’s UN mission”.
Rex Tillerson has also previously hinted there are channels available between the two countries, AP added.
More widely known is the role Sweden plays in negotiating with North Korea on Washington’s behalf.
In August, Ulv Hanssen from the Swedish Institute of International Affairs told Reuters Sweden could step in again because it was trusted by both US and North Korea.
“Sweden has done so on numerous occasions before, especially in relation to imprisoned Americans,” he said.
The Swedish Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the speculation.
The US Office of Foreign Assets Control designated 10 companies and six individuals in its sanctions.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said: “[The] Treasury will continue to increase pressure on North Korea by targeting those who support the advancement of nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and isolating them from the American financial system.”
The action means American individuals and companies are no longer permitted to do business with these companies.
China responded swiftly, calling on the US to “immediately correct its mistake” of punishing its companies.
A series of missile tests by North Korea in recent months – along with its repeated threats to carry out a sixth test of a nuclear device – have increased tensions between Pyongyang and the US.
North Korea has been angered, as it is every year, by scheduled US-South Korea military drills, and threatened to launch missiles near the US island of Guam in the South Pacific.
President Donald Trump, meanwhile, threatened the isolated regime with “fire and fury like the world has never seen”.
In North Korea’s latest propaganda video, released on August 22, an image of President Trump is shown at a cemetery which is apparently meant to be in Guam.
Vice-president Mike Pence is also pictured engulfed in flames.
Rex Tillerson’s comments on August 22 appeared to strike a more conciliatory tone.
The secretary of state said North Korea had not launched any missiles since the UN unilaterally imposed new sanctions, and had “demonstrated some level of restraint that we’ve not seen in the past”.
“We hope that this is the beginning of this signal that we’ve been looking for – that they are ready to restrain their level of tensions, they’re ready to restrain their provocative acts and that perhaps we are seeing our pathway to sometime in the near future having some dialogue,” he said.
However, speaking at UN-backed disarmament conference in Geneva on August 22, a North Korean diplomat insisted that the weapons program was “justifiable and a legitimate option for self-defense”.
He said: “As long as the U.S. hostile policy and nuclear threat remains unchallenged, the DPRK will never place its self-defensive nuclear deterrence on the negotiating table or step back an inch from the path it took to bolster the national nuclear force.”
According to South Korean and US military officials, North Korea has test-fired another ballistic missile.
The missile exploded shortly after take-off, they said – the second failed launch in the past fortnight.
President Donald Trump accused North Korea of showing “disrespect” towards China and its president.
The missile was fired in the early hours on April 29 from a site in South Pyeongan province, north of Pyongyang, South Korea said.
President Trump wrote on Twitter: “North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!”
He recently hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping and praised his Chinese counterpart for “trying very hard” on North Korea.
The failed launch came just hours after the United Nations Security Council discussed North Korea’s missile programme.
Donald Trump‘s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for a tougher international approach to the isolated communist state – but also signaled that the US might be prepared to negotiate with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Tensions in the region have increased lately, with both North and South Korea conducting military exercises.
North Korea is believed to be continuing efforts to miniaturize nuclear warheads and fit them on long-range missiles capable of reaching the US.
After April 29 failed launch, the Japanese government condemned the test and said it had lodged a strong protest with North Korea through its diplomatic channels.
“North Korea fired an unidentified missile from a site in the vicinity of Bukchang in Pyeongannam-do (South Pyeongan Province) early this morning,” the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JSC) said in a statement, Yonhap reports.
The statement added that the missile apparently exploded, just seconds after the launch.
Meanwhile, Commander Dave Benham, a spokesman for US Pacific Command, also said the launch occurred near the Bukchang airfield.
Dave Benham added that the missile did not leave North Korean territory.
US officials told Reuters that they believed the missile was a medium-range type known as KN-17.
Speaking to the UN Security Council, Rex Tillerson said the US would use diplomatic and financial measures against North Korea – including potential sanctions on companies or individuals with ties to North Korea – but would be willing to consider military action if necessary.
For years, he said, North Korea had dictated the terms of its dangerous course of action.
“It’s time for us to retake control of the situation,” he said.
“The threat of a North Korean nuclear attack on Seoul or Tokyo is real, and it is likely only a matter of time before North Korea develops the capability to strike the US mainland.”
The foreign minister of China, North Korea’s greatest ally, warned against military intervention.
“The use of force does not solve differences and will only lead to bigger disasters,” Wang Yi said.
“Peaceful settlement of the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula through dialogue and negotiations represents the only right choice that is practical and viable,” he added.
Wang Yi also repeated a Chinese offer to halt Pyongyang’s military program in return for a freeze on joint US-South Korea military drills.
The US has rejected the idea in the past, saying the nuclear program must be halted first.
Russia said use of force would be “completely unacceptable”. Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov also called on North Korea to end its nuclear and missile programs.
“The combative rhetoric coupled with reckless muscle-flexing has led to a situation where the whole world seriously is now wondering whether there’s going to be a war or not,” he told the Security Council.
“One ill-thought-out or misinterpreted step could lead to the most frightening and lamentable consequences.”
This test came from the eastern coastal town of Wonsan and will be seen as a response to annual military drills under way between the US and South Korea, which North Korea sees as preparation for an attack on it.
North Korea is believed to be developing an intercontinental ballistic missile that could strike the US, and has previously claimed it had successfully miniaturized nuclear warheads so they can fit on missiles.
However, most experts believe the North is still some time away from being able to realize such a goal.
Last weekend, North Korea conducted a rocket engine test that its leader Kim Jong-un claimed was a breakthrough in its rocket technology. This has not been confirmed by independent experts.
The move came as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Japan, South Korea and China for talks on North Korea’s recent actions, including its two most recent nuclear tests.
In South Korea on March 17, Rex Tillerson said a US military response would be on the table if North Korea threatened South Korea or US forces.
And President Trump tweeted that North Korea was “behaving very badly”.
Donald Trump also said that China – North Korea’s main ally – had done “little to help”.
Wang Yi defended China’s position, saying all parties were duty-bound to implement UN sanctions against North Korea, but also to seek dialogue and diplomatic solutions.
He said: “We hope that all parties, including our friends from the United States, could size up the situation in a cool-headed and comprehensive fashion and arrive at a wise decision.”
Secretary Rex Tillerson did not repeat his threat in Beijing, but stressed that the US and China shared “a common view that tensions on the peninsula are quite high right now – and that things have reached a rather dangerous level”.
However, he added that they had both committed “to do whatever we can to prevent any kind of conflict breaking out”.
The US has deployed its Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) in South Korea in a move it says is designed to protect against threats from North Korea.
However, China has claimed the system goes “far beyond” the defense needs of the Korean peninsula.
Secretary Tillerson, a former oil executive with no prior diplomatic experience, will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on March 19.
President Xi Jinping is scheduled to visit the US in April for his first meeting with President Donald Trump.
Some commentators expect Rex Tillerson to downplay any tensions between the two countries ahead of that encounter.
Rex Tillerson has been narrowly approved as secretary of state, despite concerns about his business ties to Russia.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee split along party lines, with all 11 Republicans voting in favor and all 10 Democrats against. A full vote will now be held in the Republican-run Senate.
The move capped a busy day for Donald Trump’s administration.
Most notable was the US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), fulfilling a campaign pledge.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order to pull out from the 12-nation trade deal that had been a linchpin of former President Barack Obama’s Asia policy.
He said: “Great thing for the American worker what we just did.”
Also on January 23, the Senate confirmed Mike Pompeo as Donald Trump’s CIA director.
Mike Pompeo’s immediate task, correspondents say, will be to establish an effective relationship between the spy agency and Donald Trump.
Image source Flickr
Donald Trump has been critical of the CIA for concluding that Russia had been actively working to influence the US presidential election in his favor.
In another development, new US Defense Secretary James Mattis said Washington had an “unshakeable commitment” to NATO, despite Donald Trump’s earlier description of the military alliance as “obsolete”.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved Rex Tillerson after leading Republican Senator Marco Rubio dropped his opposition.
Marco Rubio sparred with Rex Tillerson during confirmation hearings earlier this month, accusing him of being soft on Russia.
The 64-year-old former head of Exxon Mobil knows Russian President Vladimir Putin through his business dealings.
However, Rex Tillerson has criticized Moscow for its annexation of Ukraine’s southern Crimea peninsula in 2014.
Marco Rubio said that although he had doubts over the choice, he believed a new president was entitled to deference in assembling his cabinet.
“Despite my reservations, I will support Mr. Tillerson’s nomination in committee and in the full Senate,” said Marco Rubio.
He had challenged Rex Tillerson over his refusal to call President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” over Russia’s air strikes in Syria and his failure to condemn strongly enough human rights violations in Saudi Arabia and the Philippines.
Marco Rubio was among the candidates who fought Donald Trump in the battle for the Republican presidential ticket.
The partisan split in the voting is unusual. Traditionally, nominees for secretary of state have been approved by overwhelming votes from both parties.
Senator Ben Cardin, the committee’s top Democrat, had said he would not vote for Rex Tillerson, also over his position on Russia as well as other issues.
He also suggested that Rex Tillerson’s “business orientation” could “compromise his ability as secretary of state to forcefully promote the values and ideals that have defined” America.
While critics raise concern about Rex Tillerson’s ability to trade in his corporate interest for a national one, some supporters suggest the former CEO’s background as a global dealmaker may bring fresh perspective to the nation’s top diplomatic post.
At a closed doors meeting on January 23, Donald Trump told congressional leaders he would have won the popular vote in the election if millions of undocumented immigrants had not voted illegally. He gave no evidence for the claim.
Hillary Clinton won nearly three million votes more than Donald Trump, who got more support in key swing states and won the Electoral College.
However, any notion of widespread voter fraud was widely rejected as untrue when Donald Trump made the same claim in November.
Donald Trump has confirmed that Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his choice for secretary of state.
In a statement, the president-elect praised Rex Tillerson, 64, as among the “most accomplished business leaders and international dealmakers” in the world.
Rex Tillerson is said to have a good relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, alarming both Democrats and some Republicans.
The nomination needs Senate approval.
The secretary of state is in effect the most senior US diplomat, responsible for enacting the government’s foreign policy.
Under a Trump presidency, his in-tray could include everything from handling rows with China to revisiting the nuclear accord with Iran.
According to new reports, Donald Trump has also selected former Texas Governor Rick Perry as his Energy Secretary.
Rick Perry, 66, famously forgot the name of the energy department during a cringe-inducing gaffe at a 2011 Republican primary debate, when he said it was among the agencies he would eliminate if he was elected president.
He has also been a vocal critic of Donald Trump, calling him a “barking carnival act” and a “cancer on conservatism” before he dropped out of his second bid for the White House in 2015.
Image source Flickr
Donald Trump said: “Rex Tillerson’s career is the embodiment of the American dream.
“His tenacity, broad experience and deep understanding of geopolitics make him an excellent choice for secretary of state.”
Rex Tillerson said he was “honored” by the nomination, adding that he shared Donald Trump’s “vision for restoring the credibility of the United States’ foreign relations and advancing our country’s national security”.
The announcement had been widely expected, with Rex Tillerson favored over high-profile Republicans, including the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.
Although he has no formal foreign policy experience, as Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson oversees a company with 75,000 employees and business activities in more than 50 countries.
He has warned of the “catastrophic” impact of unchecked climate change, although his company has been accused of deliberately misleading the public about the role of fossil fuels in global warming.
However, it is Rex Tillerson’s connections to Russia that have drawn most flak.
He has forged multi-billion-dollar deals with Russia’s state oil company, Rosneft, spoken out against international sanctions imposed on Moscow and in 2013 was awarded an Order of Friendship by the Kremlin.
As rumors of his nomination gathered pace in recent days, one of Donald Trump’s rivals for the Republican nomination, Marco Rubio, said being “‘a friend of Vladimir is not an attribute I am hoping for from” the next secretary of state.
Another Republican Senator John McCain expressed concern over Rex Tillerson’s links to Vladimir Putin but promised he would get a “fair hearing” in the Senate.
Reacting to the nomination, Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy adviser, Yury Ushakov, said all Russian officials and not just the president enjoyed “good, businesslike relations” with Rex Tillerson.
Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson is being tipped as Donald Trump’s secretary of state.
Rex Tillerson, 64, has met the president-elect amid growing speculation that he is being considered for secretary of state.
NBC News quotes sources close to Donald Trump as saying that Rex Tillerson is likely to be named next week.
Former UN ambassador John Bolton will serve as his deputy, NBC adds.
Image source Flickr
The news comes as Donald Trump’s team challenged the accuracy of intelligence reports that Russia intervened to boost his election prospects.
Veteran Republican Mitt Romney is among others who have also been linked to the role of secretary of state.
NYC ex-Mayor Rudy Giuliani withdrew himself from consideration for the post last week. Rudy Giuliani’s foreign business dealings had raised questions over his suitability.
Rex Tillerson has extensive experience in international negotiations and a business relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
He has been a critic of the international sanctions against Russia for annexing Crimea.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s presidential transition team took issue with CIA assessments that said Russia had attempted to assist Trump during the November election by releasing hacked emails harmful to Hillary Clinton.
In a statement, Donald Trump’s transition team said the officials making the assessment were “the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction”.
Spokesman Sean Spicer said there were “people within these agencies who are upset with the outcome of the election”.