BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – “All options are on the table,” that’s the word from U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson following a series of North Korean ballistic missile tests.
The U.S. is leaving the door open to military action as technological advances in the North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs have raised the stakes.
“If North Korea takes actions that threatens the South Korean forces or our own forces, then that will be met with an appropriate response,” Tillerson said during a news conference in Seoul, South Korea.
Kyeonghi Baek, who teaches international relations at Buffalo State College, was born and raised in South Korea and still has family in Seoul.
She says the North Korean nuclear situation is a delicate balancing act with no simple solution for the U.S. and its allies in the region.
“The U.S. has a significant military base in Japan as well as South Korea. So in a way, an attack against South Koreans or Japan could be construed as an attack on American military personnel. That’s war against the United States,” Baek said.
The U.S. is calling on North Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Secretary of State Tillerson is hoping China will add pressure in the form of sanctions.
He’s expected to meet with Chinese officials this weekend and press them to do more to reign in North Korea.
But Baek, an associate professor in the political science department at Buffalo State, says there are indications that China, North Korea’s most important ally, doesn’t have the same influence over the “deeply isolated” country.
“They just don’t feel like China is the country to look up to anymore. China embracing global economy, trying to become in a way a global economy leader. To North Koreans, and to Kim Jong-un, seems like a betrayal of that ideology,” Baek explained.
North Korea has accelerated its weapons development as diplomatic efforts and sanctions over the years have done little to thwart provocations in the form of missile tests and rhetoric.
“Let me be very clear: The policy of strategic patience has ended,” Tillerson said. “We’re exploring a new range of diplomatic, security and economic measures.”