Rex Tillerson Fires Stark Warning To North Korea, Military Action Is ‘An Option’

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the U.S. has tried for 20 years to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program, but has failed, according to the New York Times. The Trump administration made clear diplomatic efforts to talk North Korea out of a nuclear confrontation and for North Korea to restrain itself from provocative actions.

Tillerson said as proof of America’s non-conflictual intent against North Korea, the U.S. has provided $1.3 billion in assistance to the country since 1985. In return, North Korea has detonated nuclear weapons and increased its capability to launched ballistic missiles to threaten the U.S. and its allies, according to ABC News.

“I think it’s important to recognize that the political and diplomatic efforts of the past 20 years to bring North Korea to the point of denuclearization have failed.”

Tillerson warned Friday that America’s policy of “strategic patience” with North Korea is over and even said pre-emptive military action is “on the table.” That is if the rogue regime continues with their nuclear weapons program and develop it to a level that does require action. Tillerson said this would leave North Korea with significant capabilities that “would represent a true threat.”

“Certainly we do not want for things to get to a military conflict. But obviously if North Korea takes actions that threaten 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 that requires action, that option is on the table.”


The last two times North Korea fired off missiles, the U.S. intelligence was caught by surprise. North Korea had launched “multiple” ballistic missiles the previous day, and four of them landed just 200 miles from Japan’s coast in the Sea of Japan, according to the New York Times. Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis said about 600 miles from their launch point in northwestern North Korea.

“There were four that landed. There may be a higher number of launches that we’re not commenting on. But four landed and splashed in the Sea of Japan.”

Pyongyang has staged a series of missile test-launches of various ranges in recent months. Back in February, as a challenge to President Donald Trump, North Korea fired a ballistic missile early in its first such test of the year. The ramped-up tests come as leader Kim Jong Un pushes for a nuclear and missile program that can deter what he calls U.S. and South Korean hostility toward the North.


North Korea’s expanding capacity to launch without proper warning is one reason Secretary of State Tillerson overturned two decades of U.S. policy toward North Korea.

“Let me be very clear: The policy of strategic patience has ended. We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security, and economic measures.”

The former Exxon Mobil chief had a tour through the incredibly surreal surroundings of Panmunjom. The area is a border village which is located in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) of the Korean Peninsula.

On Friday, it seemed Tillerson was on heavy “surveillance” of a North Korean soldier while visiting the heavily militarized border between the rival Koreas. This was just hours before he discussed possible military intervention.


During the joint press conference, Tillerson said the United States and its Asian allies are closer to a military response now than at any point in more than a decade. Rex’s first trip to Tokyo was intended “to exchange views on a new approach.” Tillerson said the meetings had affirmed a strong relationship between the United States and its Asian allies.

“These discussions have affirmed the friendship between Japan and the United States as strong and enduring — and will continue under the Trump administration.”

rex tillerson north korea
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, at the start of their meeting at Abe's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, Thursday, March 16, 2017. (Franck Robichon/Pool Photo via AP)

Tillerson said their long-standing alliance is highly devoted to “Peace, prosperity, and freedom in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Nikki Haley, a U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, tweeted about North Korea on Monday.

“The world won’t allow North Korea to continue on its destructive path… US & allies committed to stopping this menace to int’l security.”

William J. Perry, who was secretary of defense under President Bill Clinton, argued on Friday that it could not be realistic to expect North Korea to commit to dismantling or even surrendering their nuclear arsenal.

“I see very little prospect of a collapse… For eight years in the Obama administration and eight years in the Bush administration, they were expecting that to happen. As a consequence, their policies were not very effective.”

According to Perry, the Trump administration should really focus on persuading North Korea to commit to a long-term freeze. This freeze would suspend testing of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles and would ultimately pledge not to sell or transfer any of its nuclear technology.

[Featured Image by Jung Yeon-je/AP Images]