United States keeps possible military action against North Korea 'on the table'

Yun also seemed to express support for that option, stating, "We have various policy methods available".

Clearer contours of the new US 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.

Just last week, North Korea launched four ballistic missiles toward Japan and boasted they were a dry run for attacking American troops there. "So we hope China will alter its position on punishing South Korea".

While Tillerson's refusal to restart talks with North Korea maintains standard US policy on the matter, his suggestion that America consider military action against the rogue nation is risky break from status quo.

That message - that the new United States administration intends to be more aggressive and won't just stand by as Pyongyang advances its nuclear weaponry - was intended perhaps as much as a discussion opener with Chinese officials, some regional experts say, as it was to put the North on notice.

Certainly, we do not want for things to get to a military conflict.

Asked about the possibility of using military force against North Korea, he said, "all of the options are on the table".

Then-U.S. President Barack Obama announced that his administration would not resume them until North Korea re-committed to denuclearization and vowed to get rid of its weapons of mass destruction.

North Korea is casting a long shadow over this trip, both for its potential nuclear threat and the recent flurry of missiles it tested, in a launch that sent weapons hundreds of miles toward Japan before landing in the Sea of Japan.

"But it's a pure fantasy for Rex Tillerson to demand that North Korea denuclearize before allowing or agreeing to talks" with Pyongyang, Kimball added, also providing a thorough timeline of diplomatic attempts to curb the rogue nation's nuclear program.

Tillerson said the U.S. would need to adopt "a new approach" from earlier efforts to economically sanction Pyongyang over its nuclear program and stressed the need for cooperation between the U.S., Japan and South Korea "in the face of North Korea's unsafe and unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile programs", The New York Times reported. "China has done little to help!"

Tillerson, who traveled to Asia without the customary press corps, has raised many questions over the US's intentions in South Korea but provided few answers. It's a system that's already deployed in Guam on an "expeditionary" basis, and is now being deployed in South Korea to protect against any incoming missiles from the North.

Washington and Seoul say it is for purely defensive purposes, but Beijing fears it could undermine its own nuclear deterrent and has reacted with fury, imposing a series of measures seen as economic retaliation in the South.

He was speaking in South Korea, the second leg of an Asia visit that has also taken him to Japan.

Japanese authorities ordered the evacuation of the rural, fishing town of Oga as part of a ballistic missile test amid heightened tensions with North Korea, March 17, 2017.

Analysts said that Mr Tillerson's comments could signal a sweeping change in Washington's stance.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley told Fox News in an interview that the Trump administration plans to "go harder" on China, which it contends has not done enough to hinder North Korea's nuclear advancement.

  • Zachary Reyes