Tillerson: U.S. Readying New Sanctions Against N. Korea If Needed

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks to State Department employees, Wednesday, at the State Department in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday the United States was working on more sanctions targeting North Korea if Pyongyang takes steps that merit a new response.

“We are preparing additional sanctions if it turns out North Korea’s actions warrant additional sanctions,” Tillerson said in remarks to State Department employees.

Tillerson was addressing State Department employees Wednesday ahead of a major overhaul of the agency. His comments come amid concern that the Trump administration is deemphasizing human rights.

Tillerson says if the U.S. creates conditions for other countries to engage with the U.S., “it really creates obstacles” to the ability to achieve U.S. security and economic interests. But he says it doesn’t mean the U.S. doesn’t advocate for freedom and other rights.

Tillerson says Trump’s “America First” approach means restoring balance in U.S. relationships with allies. He says over the last two decades, the U.S. “just kind of lost track of how we were doing.”