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North’s Korea’s ballistic missile launch Wednesday triggered an abrupt three-line statement from the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
“North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile. The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment,” Tillerson’s statement read.
Pyongyang fired a possible KN-15 missile, also known as Pukguksong-2, off its east coast. The projectile flew about 37 miles splashing in international waters with maximum altitude of over 117 miles, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement, according to Yonhap News Agency.
Tillerson’s response was in stark contrast to Washington’s previous reactions condemning the reclusive nation’s nuclear and missile tests. Last month, the state secretary warned of pre-emptive military strike on the North for its provocation and said the U.S. has run out of patience with Pyongyang that test-fired four ballistic missiles last month targeting U.S. bases in Japan.
“Let me be very clear: the policy of strategic patience has ended. We are exploring a new range of security and diplomatic measures. All options are on the table,” he said.
Tillerson also said Washington does not intend to have a military conflict “but obviously if North Korea takes actions that threaten South Korean forces or our own forces, that would be met with [an] appropriate response. If they elevate the threat of their weapons programme to a level that we believe requires action that option is on the table.”
Tillerson’s latest response over North Korea’s missile launch sparked reactions from Twitter users, including Laura Rosenberger, who was Democrat Hillary Clinton's foreign policy adviser in her 2016 presidential campaign.
The North’s missile test came ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump on April 6 and April 7. Beijing is known to be the sole major ally of North Korea and has consistently urged Washington to settle the conflict with Pyongyang with negotiation.
However, in an interview with the Financial Times published Sunday, Trump said the U.S. will act alone against North Korea if China is unwilling to help.
“China has great influence over North Korea. And China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t,” Trump said. “If they do, that will be very good for China, and if they don’t, it won’t be good for anyone.”
“Well if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you,” the president added.