Rex Tillerson is serious about the North Korean threat. During each stop on the secretary of state’s visit to Asia, Tillerson made this clear. His message was a consistent testimony to American concerns about the aggressive moves recently made by North Korea.
Secretary of State Tillerson visited Japan, South Korea, and China, the week of March 14, 2017. North Korea was the prominent item on the agenda. The U.S. believes North Korea poses a grave threat to peace in the region. Tillerson agrees with this assessment.
The Communist dictatorship conducted multiple missile test launches in February and March. South Korea and Japan, the biggest allies in the region to the U.S., are particularly concerned about the missile tests and what might come next. Secretary Tillerson is equally concerned.
These medium range ballistic missile tests, by the rogue state, prove they can easily reach anywhere in South Korea. Earlier in March, three of the test missiles landed less than 100 miles from the coast of Japan. The country responded by conducting “its first civilian evacuation drill for a missile attack,” according to NBC.
Prior to Tillerson’s visit to China, the U.S. responded to these aggressive actions by accelerating the planned delivery of the “Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System to the South Koreans.” This missile defense system is designed to counter the imminent danger of North Korean missiles pointed at South Korea. The U.S. is demonstrating that action is being taken to back-up Tillerson’s words.
His statements on this trip reveal that this administration is not conducting business as usual, concerning North Korea. On March 17, in South Korea, Secretary Tillerson stated that “nothing is off the table” including the use of military force. This is a departure from policies of the last administration and reflects the failure of previous efforts to rein in North Korean aggression.
There are those who oppose the stance Tillerson is adopting toward North Korea, both here and abroad. It is speculated China will not accept such a strong posture by the U.S. China has protested the aforementioned delivery of the advanced missile defense system to South Korea.
Thus, the new secretary of state had a daunting task in front of him when he visited China on his final stop in Asia. Tillerson tried convincing the Asian nation to change its own stance toward North Korea. He met with Chinese President Xi Jinping after arriving on March 18. They undoubtedly discussed a variety of issues besides the North Korean missile and nuclear programs, though that issue was clearly at the forefront of the talks.
For example, China expressed opposition to the Trump administration’s position on Taiwan. The Communist nation claims the island as its own. Nevertheless, the U.S. considers Taiwan as independent of mainland China, and an ally. Additionally, Xi recently made moves in Southeast Asia by claiming more territory through island building in the South China Sea. They are constructing military type aircraft hangers on these man-made islands.
However, Secretary of State Tillerson made it clear that the top priority is the growing threat posed by North Korea. He said, “we are very concerned about North Korea being allowed to continue… development of weapons and delivery systems.”
North Korea has made substantial progress toward becoming a significant nuclear power in recent years. In fact, “U.S. intelligence was caught by surprise” by the advancement seen in these latest missile launches. This highlights the perilous consequences of a nuclear North Korea. Tillerson clearly understands this fact.
The Trump administration has thus chosen to face this possibility as a real threat to peace. Dictator Kim Jong Un is not pleased, even though his actions prompted the U.S. response. He may or may not realize just how serious the U.S. is about his aggression.
His actions pose a legitimate and imminent threat. One thing is certain, despite the wishes of Kim, Secretary of State Tillerson is serious about the North Korean threat.
By Daniel Osborn
Edited by Jeanette Smith
CBS NEWS: Secretary of State Tillerson Talks Tough on North Korea
FOX NEWS: New photos apparently show China building fighter jet hangars on disputed islands
Independent Journal Review: Tillerson Lays Out Diplomatic Priorities with China During Asia Visit
NBC NEWS: Tillerson’s China Trip Ends With Warm Words From President Xi
NBC NEWS: Japan Holds Missile Attack Drill Following North Korea Launch
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