Tillerson: Pre-emptive US Strike Against North Korea Is an 'Option'

Cheryl Sanders
March 22, 2017

Tillerson visited South Korea last week and declared all options, including military actions, are on the table as a result of North Korea's recent ballistic missile tests.

A visiting U.S. nuclear envoy met South Korea's major presidential contenders here on Tuesday to discuss Pyongyang and other pending diplomatic issues, officials said. We're exploring a new range of diplomatic, security and economic measures.

South Korea has also warned of the growing threat, in January they said North Korea had enough plutonium to make 10 nuclear bombs.

The U.S. and other countries have often accused North Korea of using its space program as a cover for military advances. Furthermore, Tillerson repeatedly mentioned toughening sanctions against North Korea and calling on China to play a bigger role as solutions to the North Korean nuclear issue - two policies, as it happens, which are core components of strategic patience.

"People tend to walk away from this [notion] because we just don't want another North Korean War", he said. Much to North Korea's chagrin, annual military exercises involving 17,000 United States troops and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system are also being conducted in South Korea.

Supposing the North's various technological advances can be combined and applied, it could soon be capable of delivering nuclear warheads of several hundred kilograms to the USA mainland, though that would require four of the new engines.

"The term that "everything's on the table" is kind of a typical American term - President Obama used it all the time on Iran - but it's been interpreted to mean that [the Trump administration] would look at other possibilities, including the idea of attacking North Korea in a pre-emptive mode", Hill says. Along with Japan and South Korea, the US has been bolstering its defense forces in the region.

The sanctions would particularly target Chinese banks and firms that do the business with North Korea, according to the administration officials familiar with the deliberations.

The video - featuring all the trappings of a World War II-era news reel - was released on the Uriminzokkiri website as US and South Korean forces take part in annual military drills.

That could mean striking at North Korea's facilities for launching or producing ballistic missiles or its nuclear facilities.

The significance of firing four rockets is that firing a quartet would increase the chances of eluding a sophisticated US anti-missile defense system known as THAAD. In apparent reaction, the Chinese made a show of shutting down coal deliveries from North Korea.

For such measures to have any chance of influencing North Korea, which is already under heavy sanctions, Washington must secure full worldwide cooperation - especially from China, which has shown little appetite for putting such a squeeze on its neighbour.

The back-and-forth between North Korea and the U.S.is nothing new.

Yun additionally discussed the North Korean threat with his counterpart Pham Binh Minh, who is also Vietnam's deputy prime minister.

Ahead of next month's highly anticipated summit between Trump and Xi in Florida, Mainland Affairs Council Chairwoman Katharine Chang said Monday that the island must not become a pawn and urged the U.S.to carry out its promises to Taiwan.

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