Tagged: Caps

Tillerson calls for ‘painful’ measures to punish North Korea

UNITED NATIONS – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Friday for new economic sanctions on North Korea and other “painful” measures, and he asked other countries to suspend diplomatic relations with the communist regime at a special session of the U.N. Security Council.

The Trump administration had said Thursday that it is willing to bargain directly with North Korea over ending its nuclear weapons program, but under strict conditions.

“Obviously, that will be the way we would like to solve this,” Tillerson said in an interview with NPR Friday. “But North Korea has to decide they’re ready to talk to us about the right agenda, and the right agenda is not simply stopping where they are for a few more months or a few more years and then resuming things. That’s been the agenda for the last 20 years.”

In the NPR interview and another Thursday with Fox News, Tillerson began to sketch a diplomatic approach for the new administration that focuses on international pressure and leveraging China’s economic power over its impoverished ally.

Tillerson’s call for new sanctions followed remarks by President Donald Trump that direct conflict is possible.

“There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely,” Trump told Reuters in an interview this week.

The president added, “We’d love to solve things diplomatically, but it’s very difficult.”

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who joined Tillerson and foreign ministers from countries that sit on the decision-making council, condemned what he called North Korea’s repeated violations of the body’s resolutions over nuclear and missile testing and development.

“I am alarmed by the risk of a military escalation in the region, including by miscalculation or misunderstanding,” Guterres said.

“I am particularly concerned by the possibility that efforts to offset the destabilizing activities of the DPRK could also result in increased arms competition and tensions, further impeding the ability of the international community to maintain unity and achieve a peaceful solution,” Guterres said, using an acronym for the country’s formal name Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea.

The U.N. Security Council session Friday comes at a particularly tense time in relations between North Korea and the United States, with the Trump administration sending warships to the region in a show of force against Kim Jong Un’s regime.

This week, North Korea conducted large-scale artillery drills, showing off conventional weaponry that can easily reach South Korea’s capital, Seoul, the center of a metropolitan region that is home to about 25 million people.

The Trump administration has said that military action to head off further North Korean nuclear weapons development is not out of the question, but it remains unlikely. A goal of future U.N. diplomacy could be to draw lines for when escalation by North Korea would justify retaliatory action by the United States or others, diplomats and arms control experts said.

At issue is the simultaneous effort in North Korea to perfect a nuclear warhead that could be delivered far from its shores and to develop missiles with a range long enough to be a threat to the United States. Undeterred, North Korea could have that capability within a few years – likely during Trump’s first term in office. North Korea already possesses missiles able to threaten U.S. allies South Korea and Japan, as well as other Asian neighbors.

“We entered office confronted with a very serious threat from North Korea. We knew that coming in, and the president gave that immediate attention,” Tillerson said in the Fox interview. “Tensions are running a bit high right now. We expected they would. In our approach to addressing this issue, we know there’s going to be risk involved.”

A North Korean propaganda outlet released a video clip on Thursday showing a simulated attack on the White House and declaring that ability to destroy the United States “is in our sights.”

In setting terms for direct talks – that they be directed at getting rid of North Korea’s nuclear weapons entirely, rather than freezing the program in exchange for economic benefits – Tillerson said the Trump administration is taking a tougher line than in past efforts by both Democratic and Republican administrations, but it still caries strong echoes of earlier policy.

He also suggested that China’s views are helping shape the administration’s position.

The last round of direct talks, initiated in 2003 and involving the United States, China and other nations, produced no rollback of the North Korean program. Last month, during his first trip to South Korea, Japan and China, Tillerson declared that the “era of strategic patience” that included those talks was over, and that “all options” were now on the table.

“I first spoke to the Chinese on my first trip to Beijing to make clear to them that we were unwilling to negotiate our way to the negotiating table,” Tillerson said in the Fox News interview. “And I think that’s the mistakes of the past,” he added. “The regime in North Korea has to position itself in a different place in order for us to be willing to engage in talks.”

Trump has been urging China to apply pressure on North Korea and has warned that his administration will act if Beijing does not.

China supports talks and has long argued that although it also wants to rid North Korea of nuclear weapons, it cannot persuade North Korea to give them up without direct assurances from the United States.

Tillerson offered some Thursday, telling Fox that the United States is not seeking “regime change” to topple the family dynasty of Kim Jong Un, or an “excuse” for the reunification of U.S. ally South Korea with its communist neighbor on the Korean Peninsula.

“The regime in the past has indicated the reason they pursue nuclear weapons is they feel that is the only way to ensure their survival as a regime. We want to change that view of theirs,” Tillerson said. “And we have said to them that your pathway to survival and security is to eliminate your nuclear weapons, and we and other countries will be prepared to help you on a pathway of economic development.”

The Trump administration is also threatening other action, with or without wide international backing, but the thrust of Friday’s U.N. session is to show that even China, the source of 90 percent of North Korea’s trade, has had enough, U.S. and other diplomats said.

Although the council is not voting on new sanctions or other measures Friday, the Trump administration hopes for a show of force with the entire council, including China, Russia, and the United States, coming together to air concerns about North Korea’s behavior.

Showing a willingness to hold talks with North Korea could help the United States get that unified front, but Washington risks alienating other Security Council members if it tries to set terms other countries would see as unrealistic.

“Until and unless the United States shows a willingness to engage in at least ‘talks about talks’ with North Korea, it is very unlikely they will agree to support new sanctions against North Korea,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. “If Trump and his team insist on a North Korean commitment to ‘denuclearization’ before talks can begin, other members of (the) council will see the U.S. call for ‘engagement’ as unserious and will not support new … sanctions.”

The meeting, which Tillerson will chair, caps the monthlong U.S. leadership of the Security Council. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley frequently used the rotating council presidency in April to highlight the North Korean threat.

Catholic Leaders: Refugee Ban Harms US National sk© Security SAVER SALE

By Adelaide Mena

Rather than protecting U.S. interests, recent executive orders restricting immigrants and refugees could actually pose a threat to national security, warned a group of Catholic leaders on Wednesday.

“These refugees are victims of the same violence we are trying to protect ourselves from,” said Jill Marie Geschütz Bell, senior legislative specialist for Catholic Relief Services, criticizing what she called a “disproportionate security response.”

“It’s time to be the Good Samaritan,” she urged.

Geschütz Bell and other Catholic immigration and refugee leaders spoke at a Feb. 1 press conference in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.

Don Kerwin, executive director for the Center for Migration Studies, contended that by limiting refugee protection, the United States would actually harm its security goals.

“Refugee protection actually advances and furthers security,” he said, because when refugees are left in unstable situations, terrorist organizations such as ISIS have a “potent” recruiting opportunity.

In addition, the executive orders may damage alliances – both present and future – with other nations, Kerwin said, echoing similar statements by former CIA director Michael Hayden.

During his first week in office, President Trump signed three executive orders addressing a range of issues concerning immigration, refugees, border enforcement and vetting of immigrants to the country.

One of the orders halts refugee admissions for 120 days – indefinitely for Syrian refugees – and temporarily bans visa permissions for people seeking entry to the United States from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

The effective travel ban quickly caused chaos at airports around the country as travelers already en route were told upon arrival that they would be sent back and would not be allowed into the United States for 90 days.

The same order also caps the number of refugees that will be allowed to enter the United States in 2017 at 50,000. In comparison, the 2016 cap was placed at 117,000 people, although only around 85,000 refugees actually entered the United States.

The executive action says that priority will be given to “refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution” for members of minority faiths in the refugee’s country of origin.

While the order does not mention Christianity, Trump has told media such as Christian Broadcasting News that the order would prioritize Christian refugees.

President Trump said the ban was put in place to stop “radical Islamic terrorists” and to allow time for agencies to develop stricter screening programs for those coming into the country.

Two other orders the same week focused on addressing undocumented migrants already in the country and increasing border security. They included plans to build a wall along the Mexican border, increase the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants, and penalize jurisdictions that do not comply with federal immigration laws – called “sanctuary cities” – by withholding federal grants and other funds.

Kerwin argued that while the executive orders are framed as a matter of national security, in fact, the order “exaggerates the threat from refugees in the United States beyond recognition.”

He pointed to research by the Cato Institute, which found that between 1975 and 2015, the United States admitted 3.2 million refugees, and only three people have been killed by refugee attacks – a minuscule risk that also doesn’t fully incorporate new, more restrictive protections already in place, he said.

“The overall point is that refugees themselves do not threaten security, terrorists do, and the failure of states to address this crisis also undermines security,” Kerwin stated. “We’re facing not a refugee crisis, but a crisis in refugee protection, which the executive order makes far worse.”

“More broadly,” he continued, by stepping back, the United States might be providing a troubling example for other nations. “It’s really impossible to think how the greatest refugee crisis in history since WWII could be resolved without the US playing a leading role as it has in past refugee crises.”

Speakers at the press conference emphasized that current U.S. security vetting for refugees is already very strong, and while vetting concerns are always valid, the actions taken by the executive orders are disproportionate to the threat presented.

Jeanne Atkinson, executive director for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., worried that the new orders would make Americans less safe by making immigrants less likely to report crimes for fear of deportation, thus allowing perpetrators to evade justice.

She also argued that the United States does not have the resources to carry through on the orders – there are simply not enough immigration officers and judges to review each of the 11 million cases in the country.

“What we’re going to see is the long-term detention of immigrants,” she warned. “People waiting for their day in court may languish in prison for years,” a move that she said will be costly to taxpayers and will violate the dignity of the persons detained.

Geschütz Bell added that the funds that will go into building a wall and hiring new border and immigration officers could instead be used to examine the root causes of migration. She pointed to Catholic Relief Service’s investment in and work with Honduran schools – work that undermines the gangs and resultant violence that has lead people to flee Honduras in the first place.

Within three years, she said, the program has already had immense success in educating people and stabilizing the area. “Enabling people to thrive where they are is not only more humane, but it is a cheaper option for the American people.”

Bill Canny, executive director of Migration and Refugee Services for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, voiced hope that as time passes, implementation of the executive orders will become more “humane.” He noted that the Trump Administration has already agreed to allow in more than 8,000 people who have already left refugee areas, as well as Iraqis who have provided aid to the United States Military.

“We’re getting some indications of the humane implementation of the order,” he continued, and asked Catholics to use their influence to continue to push the administration towards more humane actions.

Geschütz Bell advocated for the humane protection of other vulnerable communities that need special consideration, such as female-headed households, children and people with medical needs.

At the root of the idea of humane treatment, added Sister Donna Markham O.P., president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, is the understanding that refugees are human persons with dignity.

She urged Catholics to remember that “they are people like ourselves who woke up one morning and learned everything they had was destroyed,” and who feel depressed, downtrodden and rejected by those who turn them away in their time of distress.

“These are human beings like you and I.”

About the Author

The Catholic News Agency (CNA) has been, since 2004, one of the fastest growing Catholic news providers to the English speaking world. The Catholic News Agency takes much of its mission from its sister agency, ACI Prensa, which was founded in Lima, Peru, in 1980 by Fr. Adalbert Marie Mohm (†1986).


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