Tillerson to Lead NK Maritime Interdiction Discussion

Tillerson to Lead NK Maritime Interdiction Discussion
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will lead a group discussion over the security situation involving North Korea, including the potential use of maritime interdiction to enforce current UN sanctions, next week.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is headed to Vancouver, Canada, to host a meeting at which the maritime interdiction of sanctioned products to and from North Korea will be the leading subject.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tillerson will leave for Vancouver on Monday, where he will co-host the Vancouver Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula. His fellow co-host will be Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Nauert said the meeting will “bring together nations from across the globe to demonstrate international solidarity against North Korea’s dangerous and illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programs.” Discussions at the meeting will focus on “advancing and strengthening diplomatic efforts toward a secure, prosperous and denuclearized Korean peninsula.”

However, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency is reporting the principle subject will be the use of maritime interdiction to prevent North Korea from engaging in illegal trade under applicable United Nations sanctions. The report cites State Department Director of Policy Planning Brian Hook as the source of that information.

In attendance will be foreign ministers from the 16 nations that fought alongside or provided combat support to the South in the 1950-53 Korean War. South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha will also attend, and is expected to meet directly and privately with Tillerson.

While a naval blockade has been ruled out, and would be considered an act of war under international law, the UN resolution adopted just before Christmas gives permission to member nations to stop, inspect, and seize any vessel believed to be engaging in smuggling on North Korea’s behalf.

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