“Nothing has been taken off the table.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has warned North Korea that the U.S. will not rule out military action or tougher sanctions against the communist kingdom. From Fox News:
“We’re exchanging views,” Tillerson said, while standing a few feet within what is technically North Korean territory inside what is known as the Joint Security Area.
“Nothing has been taken off the table,” he said, when asked whether he would rule out nuclearization of the peninsula, during the interview with Fox News.
Tillerson described the strategy towards North Korea the last 20 years as a failure:
“Let me be very clear: the policy of strategic patience has ended,” said Tillerson in a later press availability in Seoul with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se.
“If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level we believe requires action that option is on the table,” Tillerson also said, adding the U.S. wants to avoid military conflict and hopes other measures convince North Korea to suspend its weapons programs.
Tillerson met with South Korean Prime Minister Yun Byung-se in Seoul:
“We have various policy methods available,” said Yun, who may leave his position following elections for a new South Korean government in early May. “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.”
Early this morning, President Donald Trump lashed out at North Korea on Twitter:
North Korea is behaving very badly. They have been "playing" the United States for years. China has done little to help!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2017
“If they infringe on the DPRK’s sovereignty and dignity even a bit, its army will launch merciless ultra-precision strikes from ground, air, sea and underwater,” the North’s state news agency KCNA said.
North Korea’s official name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“On March 11 alone, many enemy carrier-based aircraft flew along a course near territorial air and waters of the DPRK to stage drills of dropping bombs and making surprise attacks on the ground targets of its army,” KCNA said.
North Korea has upped its anti-American rhetoric since officials fired four ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan last week, with one coming close to the Japanese coast.
And while Yun tended to agree with Tillerson, things may change soon. South Korea’s Constitutional Court removed President Park Geun-hye last week amid numerous corruption allegations against her.
The country will hold a snap election on May 9, which may usher in a more liberal view on North Korea. The opposition leaders “want more engagement with North Korea and are wary of a major confrontation in the region.” Moon Jae-in, leader of the of the Democrat Party and may win in May, said she wants to bring “North Korea back to the negotiation table.”
The opposition does not like the missile defense system brought into South Korea by America, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), since it has heightened tension with China. Experts said that China has concerns the countries will use the system “to spy on China’s activities, rather than monitor incoming missiles from North Korea” and it could “undermine its ability to respond to an attack on its own soil.”