Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in South Korea on Friday that U.S. military force is an option for dealing with North Korea’s pursuit of advanced missiles and nuclear weapons, warning "the policy of strategic patience" is over.
“We’re exploring a new range of diplomatic, security and economic measures,” Tillerson said in Seoul, according to multiple reports. "All options are on the table.”
“If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table. Let me be very clear: the policy of strategic patience has ended.”
Tillerson added the U.S. does not want military conflict, but further missile threats “would be met with an appropriate response.”
The former Exxon Mobile Corp. CEO was speaking in Seoul alongside South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se.
“We have various policy methods available,” said Yun, who may leave his position following elections for a new South Korean government in early May. "If imposing diplomatic pressure is a building, military deterrence would be one of the pillars of this building."
“We plan to have all relevant nations work together more closely than in the past and make sure that North Korea, feeling pain for its wrongdoings, changes its strategy.”
Tillerson was making his first major trip to Asia representing President Trump’s administration this week, visiting China, Japan and North Korea.
Asia is on edge after North Korea test-fired four missiles into the Sea of Japan last week, a move seen as a clear provocation of Japan and South Korea.
Japan on Friday held its first civilian evacuation drill for a missile attack. Residents of the city of Oga practiced their response to a strike, though officials named only a hypothetical "Nation X" as the aggressor.