Tillerson plans to address a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council in New York on Friday as tensions are “running a bit high right now.”
“They confirmed to us that they had requested that the regime conduct no further nuclear test,” Tillerson said of the Chinese during an interview on Fox’s Special Report with Bret Baier. “In fact, we were told by the Chinese that they informed the (North Korean) regime that if they did conduct further nuclear tests, China would be taking sanctions action on their own.”
North Korea is reportedly planning to conduct a sixth nuclear test. The nation conducted its last test on Sept. 9 and has launched several missile tests in recent months.
“We’re asking a lot of the Chinese,” Tillerson said of one of North Korea’s only allies. “I think in the past, the assumption has been the Chinese would only take limited action. We’re going to test that assumption.”
Tillerson said he believes North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is rational. “He may be ruthless,” he said. “He may be a murderer. He may be someone who, in many respects, we would say by our standards is irrational. But he is not insane.”
The Trump administration doesn’t want North Korea’s government to be overthrown.
“We do not seek regime change in North Korea,” Tillerson said. “We’re not seeking a collapse of the regime.”
The U.S. Security Council voted last fall to impose a new round of sanctions on the North Korean economy.
On Wednesday, Tillerson was among the top Trump officials to brief all 100 U.S. senators for a closed-door briefing on North Korea in the White House.
“Past efforts have failed to halt North Korea’s unlawful weapons programs and nuclear and ballistic missile tests,” Tillerson said in a joint statement with Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats after the meeting. “With each provocation, North Korea jeopardizes stability in Northeast Asia and poses a growing threat to our allies and the U.S. homeland.”
The House will vote on a bill the Foreign Affairs Committee passed unanimously last month that sanctions North Korea’s shipping and financial sectors as well as targets slave labor to fund Pyongyang. Also, the Trump administration will be asked to determine within 90 days whether North Korea should be re-designated as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Last year, President Barack Obama signed into law sanctions against North Korea.
On Wednesday, North Korean official Sok Chol Won told CNN that “as long as America continues its hostile acts of aggression, we will never stop nuclear and missile tests.”
Sok is director of North Korea’s Institute of Human Rights at the Academy of Social Sciences.