US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was confident that Washington’s current strategy on North Korea was working, only hours after President Donald Trump and North Korea exchanged threats that have raised concerns about a potential military confrontation.
Tillerson said that a new diplomatic strategy for North Korea was not warranted, adding that there was “no imminent” threat from it.
Trump earlier gave North Korea an apocalyptic warning, saying it faced “fire and fury” over its weapons programs, as Pyongyang said it was considering a missile strike near the US territory of Guam.
“What the president is doing is sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong-Un would understand, because he doesn’t seem to understand diplomatic language,” Tillerson said.
Trump’s comments marked a sharp intensification of Washington’s rhetoric over the North’s nuclear and missile programs — and his bellicose tone triggered expressions of concern from China as well as from US politicians and foreign allies.
The language the president used echoed that adopted by Pyongyang in its habitual promises to turn enemies like South Korea into a “sea of flames”.
“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” said Trump, speaking from his golf club in New Jersey. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
North Korea raised the stakes just hours later, saying it was considering missile strikes near US strategic military installations on the Pacific US territory of Guam.
Once finalized, the plan could be put into action at “any moment” once leader Kim Jong-Un made a decision, the official Korean Central News Agency quoted a military statement as saying.
The remote island of Guam — a 210-square-mile dot in the Pacific – is a key US military outpost and home to some 6,000 US troops spread across facilities including the sprawling Anderson Air Force Base, as well as Naval Base Guam.
Guam-based US B1- bombers overflew the Korean peninsula on Tuesday, which KCNA said “proves that the US imperialists are nuclear war maniacs”.
Earlier, the Washington Post quoted a Defense Intelligence Agency analysis as saying officials think North Korea now has “nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery” — including by its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) — making it a potent threat against neighbors and possibly the United States.
The Pentagon did not comment on the story, but the Post said two US officials familiar with the analysis had verified the assessment’s broad conclusions, and CNN said it had confirmed the report.
The North’s main ally China warned against “words and actions” that would stoke tensions, while Germany said it was watching the “increasing rhetorical escalation” with concern.
But France praised Trump’s “determination” in standing up to Pyongyang.
The European Union said it is concerned about tensions over North Korea and that the standoff can only be resolved by peaceful means.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini’s spokeswoman said Wednesday that the developments are “of great concern to the EU.”
Spokeswoman Catherine Ray said “a lasting peace and denuclearization of the Korean peninsula must be achieved through peaceful means … that excludes military action.”
Pyongyang “must comply without delay fully and unconditionally with its obligations” under UN Security Council resolutions, she added.
The German government has expressed concern over what is described as the “rhetorical escalation” between Washington and Pyongyang. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said “further saber rattling” and military measure will not help solve the issue.
Martin Schaefer told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday that Germany “calls on all parties to show restraint.”