The Risks of a Silent US Cyberwar Against North Korea's Weapons

The US has said its policy of "strategic patience" with North Korea is over, and suggested it may decide to take pre-emptive military action.

"We do not oppose necessary measures that the ROK takes to maintain its national security, but such measures can not be pursued at the expense of China's security", the spokesperson said.

Instead, he said, the USA will explore a range of military options, alongside diplomatic, security and economic measures.

Satellite images have shown that, despite United Nations sanctions, the reclusive state is gearing up for a sixth test by excavating a tunnel at its test site that can withstand an explosive force up to 14 times more powerful than its previous test.

"North Korea is behaving very badly", Trump wrote. China has done little to help!"he tweeted on Friday morning".

"(Beijing's) economic retaliation against South Korea is inappropriate and troubling", Tillerson said.

"If they elevate the threat of their weapons programme to a level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table", Mr Tillerson said when asked about military action.

His thesis is that North Korea, the US and its South Korean ally are embarked on a risky course of gaming out first-strike capacities.

Such ideas could gain traction, however, if North Korea proceeds with a threatened test of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States. And what tactics are in the works to protect the country from North Korea's growing nuclear power? Tillerson is due to visit Beijing on Saturday and meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

If Moon Jae-in, front-runner for the May 9 presidential election, reverses policy on the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system, it will place him at odds with the United States, South Korea's biggest ally.

"At the end of the day, if the reality unfolds in a way that South Korea's national security and the economy were damaged because of the THAAD, not because of the North Korea issue, then it's not really a rational situation, is it?"

THAAD, which stands for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, is created to detect and then intercept incoming ballistic missiles in their "terminal" phase - that is, when they're on the way down, not on the way up. In recent years, the nation has launched a number of test missiles, sparking concern among the U.S and its allies who fear North Korea is planning another nuclear test in the near future. If it had only 10 missiles, it would have hesitated to fire so many at one go.

"Let me be very clear: the policy of strategic patience has ended", said Tillerson in a later press availability in Seoul with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se.

"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 explained, according to NBC News.

Tillerson ate lunch with US troops there and signed a brick with chalk, a tradition for dignitaries who visit the site.

North Korea's nuclear capabilities are also improving at an alarming clip.

China is South Korea's largest trading partner and the dispute over THAAD has left shopping districts in Seoul devoid of their usual crowds of Chinese tourists.

The U.S. response has been precisely the opposite, however, arguing that North Korea can not be trusted to relinquish its nuclear weapons and that China should support and comply with global efforts to increase pressure on North Korea to freeze its nuclear development by imposing even stronger economic sanctions on North Korea.

  • Leroy Wright