US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday that a pre-emptive military attack on North Korea may be necessary if the threat of its weapons development program reaches a level that “we believe requires intervention”.
Tillerson spoke of a more robust response to the North Korean nuclear threat after visiting the world’s most militarized border near the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas.
He then rejected any discussions with Pyongyang until the North waived its nuclear program and its weapons of mass destruction.
Asked about a possible use of military force, Tillerson told a press conference in the South Korean capital that “all options are on the table.” He went on to say that the United States hoped that other measures would convince North Korea to change its path before reaching that point. “We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security and economic measures. All the options are on the table. ”
The previous US administrations had also considered the use of military force against North Korea, but the option had rarely been raised in such an equivocal manner.
North Korea has accelerated its weapons development program, ignoring multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions and the heavy sanctions imposed by the international community.
The North carried out two nuclear tests and launched 24 ballistic missiles last year. Experts believe that it could have within a few years nuclear-warhead missiles capable of hitting the United States.
Mr. Tillerson had stopped in Japan before his visit to South Korea. It is expected Saturday in China, the main diplomatic ally and trading partner of Pyongyang.
Beijing worries as Washington’s neighbor’s nuclear program, but believes that the United States has played a role in escalating tensions.
The situation is complicated by the deployment in South Korea of the American missile defense shield Thaad. Seoul and Washington say it has purely defensive aims, but Beijing believes Thaad and its powerful radar are likely to reduce the effectiveness of its own missile systems.
Trump accuses China of having “little done”
US President Donald Trump Friday accused China of “doing little” to contain North Korea’s nuclear ambitions a few hours after statements by its secretary of state stating that the military option ” Was not excluded.
“North Korea is doing very badly. They have been playing in the United States for years. China has done little to help! “Said Mr. Trump in a tweet.