President Trump is turning up the heat on North Korea to stop developing nuclear weapons and threatening South Korea, according to USA Today.
“North Korea is behaving very badly,” the president declared Friday on Twitter. “They have been playing the United States for years. China has done little to help!” Trump appeared to be confirming Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s suggestion that the U.S. military might take action against North Korea, which claims to have developed nuclear missiles that can strike the United States.
During a Thursday news conference in South Korea, a reporter asked Tillerson if the administration is considering a preemptive attack on North Korea. The State Department chief responded: “Obviously if North Korea takes actions that threaten South Korean forces or our own forces, that would be met with an appropriate response. If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table.” He also called for economic sanctions and diplomatic efforts to rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
The New York Times reported that Tillerson rejected talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to discuss the missile-testing program. “The policy of strategic patience has ended,” he said, in reference to the Obama administration’s approach to the North Korean threat. Tillerson claimed diplomatic talks “can only be achieved by denuclearizing; giving up their weapons of mass destruction.” He said that “only then will we be prepared to engage them in talks.”
Since Trump’s campaign for the presidency, he has promised to change U.S. policies toward Pacific Rim countries. Early last year, he told the Times he would withdraw U.S. forces from the region if South Korea and Japan refused to increase their financial support of the American troops stationed there. Trump also has frequently slammed China for allegedly taking advantage of the United States in international trade agreements.
On Friday, Tillerson visited the Demilitarized Zone, which separates the two Koreas. In his first trip to Asia as secretary of state, his next stop was to be China on Saturday. The White House indicated that Tillerson would pressure Chinese officials to control North Korea with sanctions and other measures.
Source: USA TOday