“The policy of strategic patience has ended,” Mr. Tillerson said, a reference to the term used by the Obama administration to describe a policy of waiting out the North Koreans, while gradually ratcheting up sanctions and covert action.
“We are exploring a new range of security and diplomatic measures. All options are on the table,” Tillerson told a news conference.
He said any North Korean actions that threatened U.S. or South Korean forces would be met with “an appropriate response,” turning up the volume of the tough language that has marked President Donald Trump’s approach to North Korea.
“Certainly, we do not want for things to get to a military conflict,. If they elevate the threat of their weapons programs to a level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table,” Tillerson told reporters on Friday on a trip to South Korea when asked about the possibility of a military strike. He ruled out talks with North Korea until it commits to giving up its nuclear weapons.
China is likely to express its anger at being told to rein in nuclear-armed North Korea when U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in Beijing on Saturday, his first visit to the country since taking office last month.
Beijing is expected to call on Washington to share responsibility in lessening tensions in the region, while strongly opposing this month’s deployment of a sophisticated U.S. missile defense system in South Korea.