Clearer contours of the new U.S. policy on North Korea emerged as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made unmistakably clear that carrots have failed to disarm Pyongyang and the new package of options will be packed with sticks, including even the use of force.
“All options are on the table,” a diplomatic parlance that usually refers to military action, was said twice during Tillerson’s joint news conference in Seoul with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se as the top American diplomat delivered a thinly veiled warning to Pyongyang.
“All of the options are 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,” Tillerson said.
“If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table,” he said, referring to a military option.
At the same time, Tillerson also said that reopening negotiations any time soon is not an option.
“It is important that the leadership of North Korea realize that their current pathway of nuclear weapons and escalating threats will not lead to their objective of security and economic development. That pathway can only be achieved by denuclearizing, giving up their weapons of mass destruction,” Tillerson said.
“And only then will we be prepared to engage with them in talks,” he said.