Tillerson on North Korea: "All options are on the table"

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, second from right, is greeted by U.S. officials upon his arrival at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, Friday, March 17, 2017.

In recent comments, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi implied the United States and North Korea were equally at fault for the latest crisis and moving towards a "head-on collision".

"We will be having discussions with China as to further actions we believe they might consider taking that would be helpful to bringing North Korea to a different attitude about its future need for nuclear weapons", he said.

The former Exxon Mobil Corp CEO faces multiple challenges in his unfamiliar role as chief U.S. diplomat, including a boss in U.S. President Donald Trump who makes unpredictable policy pronouncements and does not take kindly to criticism or contradiction, said four current officials.

Chas Freeman, a retired diplomat who served as the USA ambassador to Saudi Arabia and as the lead interpreter for former President Richard Nixon's 1972 visit to China, said Tillerson's low-key style might be a survival tactic.

Tillerson was speaking in Tokyo at the beginning of his first visit to Asia as secretary of state.

Tillerson made it clear he expected China, North Korea's sole major ally, to do more.

The Japan Times, citing an anonymous senior Japanese foreign ministry official, reported that Tillerson told Kishida that "all options are on the table" in dealing with North Korea's military threat.

Before Tillerson's departure from Washington, a Trump administration official underscored the White House's rejection of China's objections to the deployment, now underway, of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-missile battery in South Korea.

"The United States holds a joint military exercise every year to push the situation on the Korean Peninsula to a serious situation, and that is the source of the super tough measures we must take", Pak Myong Ho told reporters in a rare briefing at the North Korean Embassy in the Chinese capital.

"President Trump has the utmost confidence in the Secretary of State and looks forward to Mr. Tillerson implementing a bold agenda to revitalize American foreign policy", Anton said. "Otherwise, we're staring down the barrel of an ICBM", Corker said.

"That encouragement has been met with further development of nuclear capabilities, more missile launches", including this month and last, Tillerson said.

The U.S. and China also disagree over U.S. deployment of a missile defence system to South Korea.

Japan is seeking clues to Washington's policies both on North Korea and China's increasing military and economic clout while hoping to steer clear of trade rows.

USA officials said that the administration is considering targeting Chinese firms with sanctions for economic engagement with North Korea, given evidence that some of them are helping the country import and export weapons.

Experts assess that the North is only a couple of years away from arming itself with a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach as far as the USA mainland.

The drill assumed a scenario of a hypothetical country firing a missile that falls into Japanese territorial waters off the coast of Akita prefecture. "In return, North Korea has detonated nuclear weapons and launched ballistic missiles".

"America has provided $1.3 billion in assistance (to North Korea) since 1995".

Under discussion in addition to potential military moves are tighter US sanctions on the regime and secondary sanctions against its commercial allies.

He warned that U.S. investments in China would bear the brunt of any trade war, and argued: "I believe whatever differences we have, we can still sit down and talk to each other and work together to find solutions".

  • Leroy Wright