ESCALATION

Tillerson: Pre-Emptive Strike on North Korea Is ‘Option on the Table’

© POOL New / Reuters

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday that pre-emptive military action against North Korea is “an option on the table” and that the U.S. policy of “strategic patience” regarding the isolated nation is over. “Certainly we do not want to, for things to get to military conflict,” Tillerson told reporters at a Seoul press conference. “If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action, then, that option’s on the table.” He also ruled out any negotiations to reach a deal on North Korea freezing its nuclear-weapons development program. Tillerson made the comments just one day after he’d issued public assurances that Pyongyang “need not fear” the U.S. and could just abandon its “dangerous and unlawful” nuclear-weapons program. The former ExxonMobil CEO is on his first trip to Asia as a U.S. diplomat. On Friday, he visited the Demilitarized Zone that divides the two Koreas. Japan held its first missile drill Friday in the wake of North Korea’s recent ballistic-missile test firings into waters off its coast.