US, Russia Won’t Recognize North Korea as a Nuclear Power

Tillerson, Lavrov Agree on Pursuing Diplomacy

According to officials familiar with the conversation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have agreed that neither of their nations will recognize North Korea as a “nuclear state.”

Sergey Lavrov and Rex Tillerson

That’s unsurprising, as in theory the US, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China are the only nuclear-weapons states under the NPT, despite multiple other nations having nuclear arms at this point.

Nations like Israel, India, and Pakistan are not generally recognized as “nuclear states” for official purposes, and its unsurprising that North Korea would have that same problem. Since those arms capabilities are generally recognized, the label is purely semantic.

On a more positive note though, Lavrov and Tillerson both agreed that pursuing diplomacy was the way to handle North Korea. That’s a position that Russia has long advocated. Tillerson has at times talked  up diplomacy too, but often gets rebuked by President Trump over it. That Tillerson is still endorsing diplomacy suggests the US hasn’t established its final word on it.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.