Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took a hard-line against North Korea, saying that military force is an option for dealing with the hereditary dictatorship.
“We’re exploring a new range of diplomatic, security and economic measures,” he said, The Hill is reporting. “All options are on the table.”
Tillerson said his boss – President Donald Trump – would probably not be as patient as his predecessor.
“If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table.” Tillerson was speaking alongside his South Korean counterpart in Seoul. “Let me be very clear: the policy of strategic patience has ended.”
Tillerson added the U.S. does not want military conflict, but further stated that missile threats “would be met with an appropriate response.”
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se also said that military action was an option.
“We have various policy methods available,” said Yun. “If imposing diplomatic pressure is a building, military deterrence would be one of the pillars of this building.”
“We plan to have all relevant nations work together more closely than in the past and make sure that North Korea, feeling pain for its wrongdoings, changes its strategy.”
This is Tillerson’s first trip to Asia in the Trump Administration and it comes one week after the North test-fired four missiles into the Sea of Japan in a clear provocation of Japan and South Korea.
In Japan, they held their first-ever “civilian evacuation drill,” simulating a missile attack. Residents of the city of Oga practiced their response to a strike from “Nation X” as the aggressor.
Tillerson said he was not interested in returning to the negotiation table to freeze its nuclear and missile testing programs.
Negotiations “can only be achieved by denuclearizing, giving up their weapons of mass destruction,” he said — a step to which the North committed in 1992, and again in subsequent accords, but has always violated. “Only then will we be prepared to engage them in talks.”
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