U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has warned North Korea that military action is “on the table”.
Donald Trump‘s highest-ranking foreign policy advisor issued the warning amid increasing tensions in the area due to North Korea’s weapon’s programme.
Speaking at a press conference in South Korea, Mr Tillerson said: “If they elevate the threat of their weapons programme to a level that we believe requires action then that option is on the table.
“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.”
Mr Tillerson made his comments during his first official visit to Asia as Secretary of State.
He promised that the U.S. policy of “strategic patience” was now a thing of the past, adding that, “We are exploring a new range of security and diplomatic measures. All options are on the table.”
This marks a bold new direction by the U.S., which has previously been critical of North Korea’s actions without offering a hostile response.
Donald Trump earlier tweeted that North Korea is ‘behaving very badly’, signalling his government’s openly combative attitude towards the secretive nation.
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
Tensions are high between North and South Korea following recent weapon tests carried out by the North, which it has promised will continue.
Mr Tillerson said that “we have many, many steps we can take” before military action becomes a reality, adding that “we hope that that will persuade North Korea to take a different course of action. That’s our desire.”
The Secretary of State urged China to take on North Korea by abandoning its opposition to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system.