Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. is considering “all options” to counter North Korea’s nuclear threat while criticizing China over moves to block a missile-defense system on the peninsula.
In some of his most detailed comments yet on North Korea, Tillerson ruled out a negotiated freeze of its nuclear weapons program and called for a wider alliance to counter Kim Jong Un’s regime. He also left the military option on the table if the North Korean threat gets too large.
“If they elevate the threat of their weapons programs to a level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table,” Tillerson told reporters on Friday on a trip to South Korea when asked about the possibility of a military strike. He ruled out talks with North Korea until it commits to giving up its nuclear weapons.
“Let me be very clear: this policy of strategic patience has ended,” Tillerson said. “All options are on the table. North Korea must understand that the only path to a secure, economically prosperous future is to abandon its development of nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and other weapons of mass destruction.”
Any US pre-emptive strike would involve conventional stealth fighters and bomber and cruise missiles
The initial targets would include nuclear reactors, missile-production facilities, and launching pads for intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Cruise missiles and F-22s would target North Korea’s rudimentary air defenses, and B-2s would hit known missile sites.
Planes like the F-35 and the F-22 would hunt down mobile missile launchers, which can hide all over North Korea’s mountainous terrain. In the event that North Korea does get off a missile, the US and South Korea have layered missile defenses that would attempt to shoot it out of the sky.
North Korea would hit back with artillery and roll tanks on South Korea. They would also try to fire any surviving missiles at South Korea and possibly Japan.