No more Mr. Nice Guy: U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson indicated on Friday that he will no longer sit idly by and allow the North Korean government to continue its aggressive posturing, suggesting that the Trump administration will even consider military action if it is deemed necessary to combat the threat North Korea poses.
During a press conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se in Seoul, Tillerson stated unequivocally that the Trump administration is now weighing new approaches to handling North Korea, noting that “all options are on the table.
“The policy of strategic patience has ended. … If North Korea takes actions that threaten South Korean forces or our own forces, that will be met with an appropriate response,” Tillerson said. “If they elevate the threats of their weapons programs to the level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table.”
However, Tillerson made sure to emphasize that there is no warmongering taking place, highlighting the Trump administration’s commitment to ensuring that no North Korean civilians are caught in the crossfire.
“We hope that that will persuade North Korea to take a different course of action. That’s our desire,” Tillerson said.
As for the role of China, North Korea’s historical ally in the region, Tillerson criticizes the country for not doing enough to rein in Pyongyang’s aggressiveness and for cutting ties with South Korea after the U.S.’s deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system.
“While we acknowledge Chinese opposition, its economic retaliation against South Korea is inappropriate and troubling. We ask China to refrain from such actions. Instead, we urge China to address the threat that makes that necessary,” Tillerson said.