Tillerson Takes Bold Stance on Countering North Korea

Says pre-emptive military action is definitely 'option on the table'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2017 5:28 AM CDT
A North Korean soldier looks at the south side while Tillerson visits the border village of Panmunjom.   (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, Pool)
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(Newser) – Looks like North Korea and the US finally agree on something—though unfortunately, that something is the possibility of war. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in South Korea, where he said Friday that the era of "strategic patience" is over and pre-emptive military action is definitely an "option on the table," the BBC reports. Tillerson, speaking after a visit to the DMZ that divides North and South, said that while military conflict isn't what the US wants, American forces will deliver an "appropriate response" if they or their South Korean allies are threatened, reports the AP, which notes that previous administrations have rarely raised the option of military action "so explicitly."

"If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action, then that option's on the table," Tillerson said, calling for China, the next country on his Asia trip, to fully implement sanctions against Pyongyang. A day earlier, after meeting with Japan's leaders, Tillerson said 20 years of diplomacy had failed and it was time to try a "new approach" to stop North Korea's nuclear program, the Washington Post reports. Soon afterward, Pyongyang's embassy in Beijing held a press conference, vowing to continue the nuclear program and warning that "peace and stability" was being threatened by the US and Seoul. (Read more North Korea stories.)

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