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Weighing Tillerson’s N. Korea comments and the reality of the country’s nuclear program

by AirTalk®

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US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (C) poses for a photograph with US Gen. Vincent K. Brooks (R), commander of the United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and United States Forces Korea, and deputy Commander of the Combined Force Command General Leem Ho-young (L) as two North Korean soldiers (top) look on at the border village of Panmunjom, which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, on March 17, 2017. LEE JIN-MAN/AFP/Getty Images

North Korea has emerged as a major issue during Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s first official trip to Asia this week. At a press conference in Seoul, Tillerson said all options are on the table when it comes to dealing with North Korea and its rising nuclear capability, including the use of military force.

"Certainly, we do not want things to get to a military conflict ... but obviously, if North Korea takes actions that threatens the South Korean forces or our own forces, then that would be met with an appropriate response,” Tillerson said in response to a question.

Tillerson also rejected the idea of negotiating with North Korea. The country’s nuclear threats that gained traction during the Obama Administration are coming to the fore. As reported by the New York Times, North Korea successfully launched three medium-range rockets, all in less than a year. And that country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, is also boasting final preparations for an intercontinental missile test.

So how prepared is the U.S. to take on a nuclear threat? When testing interceptors in California and Alaska, results came back with a failure rate of 56 percent. So what’s left us so unprepared? And what tactics are in the works to protect the country from North Korea’s growing nuclear power?


Sung Yoon Lee, an expert on the Koreas and professor in Korean Studies at Tufts University

William J. Broad, science journalist and senior writer at the New York Times. He co-authored the article, “Trump Inherits a Secret Cyberwar Against North Korean Missiles


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