U.S. Could Raise Pressure on North Korea With Sanctions on Countries That Trade With Pyongyang

The U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has proposed introducing sanctions against any countries conducting deals with North Korea.

Tillerson said the White House may need to impose "secondary sanctions" on nations who engage in business with North Korea.

He made the statement during a hearing at the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.

The U.S. has no trade links with North Korea, but can apply pressure on companies from other countries to reduce trade by implementing third-party sanctions on them. Tillerson has not yet named any countries that might be affected.

He said: "We are in a stage where we are moving into this next effort of 'Are we going to have to, in effect, start taking secondary sanctions because countries we have provided information to have not, or are unwilling, or don't have the ability to do that?'"

Tillerson said the U.S. would discuss developments with China, North Korea's biggest trading ally, next week, and that China had taken steps to put pressure on North Korea. "They have taken steps, visible steps that we can confirm," he said.

The United Nations has placed sanctions on Pyongyang over its testing of missiles and attempted nuclear program, and the U.S. extends its own sanctions on the country in 2016 under President Barack Obama.

Donald Trump has made North Korea his top foreign policy issue, and General Joseph Dunford told Congress on June 12 that Pyongyang was on "a relentless path to field a nuclear [missile] that can reach the United States. "

North Korea has fired 16 missiles in 10 tests in 2017, two of which were classified as medium-range and the others short. Analysts believe North Korea seeks to create a nuclear warhead to fit onto Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.