Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that nothing will be taken off the table, including increased weaponization and possibly arming our East Asian allies with nukes, if North Korea continues to pursue an aggressive stance against the US and its allies.
In an exclusive interview with Fox News, Tillersonson said while standing just inside North Korean territory in what has been labeled Joint Security Area, "We're exchanging views."
"Nothing has been taken off the table," he said.
“Let me be very clear: the policy of strategic patience has ended," Tillerson said on Friday during a press conference in Seoul.
Though Tillerson said the US wanted to avoid a military conflict with North Korea, he added, "All of the options are on the table. Certainly, we do not want to — for things to get to a military conflict. We are quite clear in that, in our communications. But obviously, if North Korea takes actions that threatens the South Korean forces or our own forces, then that would be met with an appropriate response. If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table.”
The Hill reports:
Tillerson did not elaborate on what options he meant, but experts say potential options could range from preemptive strikes against nuclear and missile facilities, attempting to shoot down a missile during tests, or even regime change.
But many experts also cautioned about jumping to conclusions. They said that any military action would be unwise as North Korea would likely respond in kind, putting U.S. allies South Korea and Japan at risk, as well U.S. citizens in those countries.
“We should not expect that would be a freebie, and the receiver of whatever they would do would most likely be the South Koreans and the Japanese,” said Robert Gullucci, the chief U.S. negotiator during the North Korean nuclear crisis of 1994.
President Donald Trump supported what Tillerson said, tweeting on Friday, " North Korea is behaving very badly. They have been 'playing' the United States for years. China has done little to help!"
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
Fox News reported:
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Then-candidate Donald Trump received criticism when, in a March 2016 interview with The New York Times, he said of nuclear weapons: “would I rather have North Korea have them with Japan sitting there having them also? You may very well be better off if that’s the case.”
In a tweet, Trump later denied he said more countries should have nuclear weapons. Tillerson is in the middle of a trip to Japan, South Korea and China, largely to discuss coordinated efforts to halt North Korea’s advancing nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
He travels to China Friday, after pressuring that government to further curtail the threat from its ally, calling its approach to North Korean aggression “troubling” and “inappropriate.”