Secretary of State Tillerson says North Korea sanctions working at Stanford lecture

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- U.S. Secretary of State spoke to Stanford faculty and fellows of the Hoover Institution today with Syria as his focus. However, it was former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who turned the conversation to the on-going tension with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. That's when Tillerson provided some insight.

RELATED: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Condoleezza Rice speak at Stanford

"The level of communications that goes on between ourselves, South Korea and China on this issue is pretty extraordinary," Tillerson said. "People would probably be surprised how often we're on the phone with one another a week."

Tillerson believes China also recognizes it's facing from North Korea's nuclear development and missile tests, despite a long history of economic support.

Tillerson shared details provided at a meeting with a Japanese minister this week how North Korea is sending out fishing boats in hostile winter weather, but many crewmen are dying at sea; their boats unable to get home. Important feedback, he says, about the economic sanctions against North Korea.

RELATED: Tillerson calls on global community 'nuclear armed North Korea' not acceptable

"They're being sent out in the wintertime to fish," Tillerson said. "Because there's food shortages, and they're sent out to fish with inadequate fuel to get back. So we're getting a lot of evidence that these sanctions are really starting to hurt."

A Stanford senior said he embraces Tillerson's efforts at diplomacy, set against the possibility of military action.

"Having Secretary Mattis behind him with strong military presence was important, but also emphasizing diplomatic efforts and the coordination, work with the South Koreans and the Chinese as well."

Click here for more stories, photos, and video on Rex Tillerson.
Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.