North Korea conducts testing of new rocket engine

Yolanda Curtis
March 22, 2017

Washington's special representative for North Korea policy, Joseph Yun, arrived in Seoul Monday night and kicked off his three-day schedule by separately meeting with some of South Korea's leading presidential contenders, a strong sign the Donald Trump administration was wasting no time in articulating its official stance against the Pyongyang regime. "Efforts toward North Korea to achieve peaceful stability over the last two decades have failed to make us safer", the secretary of state declared.

Last week, the president criticized North Korea and China in an early morning tweet.

And anonymous diplomatic sources told the New York Times that Tillerson may have more closely adopted his boss's tone during his visit behind the scenes. What happens if Kim is defeated in a military confrontation with South Korea and the U.S.?

"Certainly, we do not want things to get to a military conflict", he said at a press conference in Seoul, but added, "If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level we believe requires action, that option is on the table".

A spokesman for North Korea's Foreign Ministry slammed U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's recent talk of tougher sanctions, more pressure, and possible military action, and said the North would not be deterred in its nuclear program.

"The a hacking empire and the worst rogue state which stoops to any [level] to realize its ambition for world domination", it said in an editorial comment. That's easy: No. Candidate Trump's warnings about China's predatory behavior have been too heartfelt, and the economic, strategic, and ideological sources of friction between the United States and China are too deep-seated for anyone to take Tillerson's words at face value.

North Korea has responded to rising tensions on the peninsula with its usual defiance.

During his recent tour of Asia, Tillerson indicated that military action could be used against North Korea if the country's escalates, posing more serious threat to the US and its allies, but while the use of military force is an option, the new USA administration appears interested in pursuing a less risky approach: sanctions. It has deployed hundreds of missiles capable of reachingJapan, South Korea and USA bases on Guam and showed a willingness to employ biological or chemical weapons when it allegedly ordered the assassination of Kim Jong Un's half brother in Malaysia using VX nerve agent.

Japan, which was Tillerson's first stop before traveling to South Korea and China, hosts tens of thousands of US troops.

However, if the United States did become open to the idea of North Korea having nuclear weapons, Glosserman said it would create "profound stresses" in its relationship with South Korea and Japan, as well as undermining the integrity of the non-proliferation treaty. We of course are not afraid of any act like that ... The newspaper praised the Trump administration for being even more willing than the Obama administration to go along with China's position.

Toner also said that the USA is not backing away from its concerns about human rights in China.

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