Secretary Tillerson Confirms Following Asia Trip: U.S. Now Considering Military Strike Against Foe
(Note from Editor – “preemptive strike definition. A first-strike attack with nuclear weapons carried out to destroy an enemy’s capacity to respond. A preemptive strike is based on the assumption that the enemy is planning an imminent attack.“)
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday that use of preemptive force on North Korea is an option for United States and South Korean military groups.
His statement comes after countless threats from North Korea against the U.S. ally nation. They have also had multiple new tests involving intercontinental missiles launched toward the coast of Japan.
Tillerson also closed the door to any talks with Pyongyang unless Kim Jong Un “de-nuclearizes the country and gives up all weapons of mass destruction.” His decision came following a visit to the buffer zone between North and South Korea this week. He witnessed a heavily armed border that he says is no good for either of the countries involved.
Before his meeting with South Korean officials, Tillerson visited Camp Bonifas, a United Nations base that is operated by U.S. military just outside the Demilitarized Zone. It’s an area that was created after the Korean war ended in 1953. After landing, he moved to the truce village of Panmunjom inside the DMZ, where the Korean War armistice was signed.
The DMZ is guarded on both sides with land mines, razor wire fences, tank traps and hundreds of thousands of combat-ready troops. More than a million mines are believed to be buried inside the DMZ. Land mine explosions in 2015 that Seoul blamed on Pyongyang wounded two South Korean soldiers and led the countries to threaten each other with attacks.
The Korean War ended with an armistice, not a treaty, which means the area is still technically in a state of war.
When asked about the use of military force in a press conference, Tillerson said, “All options are on the table.” He went on to say that the United States does not want to engage in any combat, “but obviously if North Korea takes action that threatens South Korean forces or our own forces that would be met with [an] appropriate response. If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action that option is on the table.”
North Korea has recently grown its nuclear program to a level that the United States finds not only unnecessary, but also very dangerous for all of East Asia. The development of more nuclear weapons violates several U.N. Security Council resolutions. Kim Jong Un, the country’s leader, seems unmoved by the presentation of tougher international sanctions. North Korea conducted 24 missile launches last year alone, all of which were done to test nuclear devices. Sources who have access to the program’s information claim the country could have a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the United States within a few years if nothing is done to stop the development.
Tillerson met with South Korean Foreign Affairs Minister Yun Byung-se, the country’s equivalent to the U.S. Secretary of State, as well as South Korea’s acting president, Hwang Kyo-ahn, earlier in the day. The meeting was part of Tillerson’s “listening tour” of Asia. The mission is to reach out to all of the major officials in Asia to discuss relations with each of them. The U.S. also wants to find a North Korean policy that all of its allies in the region can agree to.
President Trump has spoken freely about his support for examining all options, including military force, in order to stop North Korea’s nuclear developments. Trump and Tillerson have criticized the Obama administration’s “strategic patience” with North Korea, which both men claim was just a way to avoid any interaction. Tillerson said the United States is now exploring “a new range of diplomatic, security and economic measures.”
The U.S. and it allies in Japan and South Korea have pushed China to use its economic leverage over North Korea. However, the nation has instead announced its desire to begin diplomatic talks with the nuclear-armed country.
In response, Tillerson said, “20 years of talks with North Korea have brought us to where we are today. It’s important that the leadership of North Korea realize that their current pathway of nuclear weapons and escalating threats will not lead to their objective of security and economic development. That pathway can only be achieved by denuclearizing, giving up their weapons of mass destruction, and only then will we be prepared to engage with them in talks.”
Tillerson has also accused China of attacking South Korea’s economy in retaliation to the country’s implementation of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, which the United States has played a vital role in.
China’s government used its influence on its people to protest products from Lotte, a South Korean-owned company that depends on China for roughly 30 percent of its profits. Although Beijing officials have denied doing such, the company has brought up countless situations to prove otherwise.
North Korea has also responded to THAAD’s deployment, causing more tension on the Korean peninsula. The country has threatened both South Korea and the United States with nuclear attacks if they don’t halt the deployment immediately. These threats further prompted Tillerson and the State Department to engage in discussions with the surrounding countries sooner rather than later.
On Monday, a South Korean news site announced that SEAL Team 6 and Delta Force were going to be joining the U.S. and South Korean military forces at the annual Foal Eagle and Key Resolve exercises this month.
The report suggested that the military was conducting simulations to devise a plan to remove Kim Jong Un from his position in North Korea. A source from the Defense Ministry said even if the exercises aren’t meant for planning out Kim Jong Un’s assassination, it still makes a strong statement. In fact, the mere attendance of such U.S. military groups “will send a very strong message to North Korea, which is constantly carrying out military provocations.”
In response to the exercises, North Korea launched four missiles into the sea off the coast of Japan, giving the United States and its allies even more reason to start planning special operations.
Is military action what we need to secure East Asia? If sanctions and patience haven’t worked, then perhaps combat will.