SEOUL (Reuters) – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States was looking at ways to pressure North Korea over its nuclear program as North Korean state media warned the Americans of a “super-mighty preemptive strike” and said don’t “mess with us”.
U.S. President Donald Trump has taken a hard line with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who has rebuffed admonitions from sole major ally China and proceeded with nuclear and missile programs in defiance of U.N. Security Council sanctions.
Reclusive North Korea regularly threatens to destroy Japan, South Korea and the United States and has shown no let-up in its belligerence after a failed missile test on Sunday, a day after putting on a huge display of missiles at a parade in Pyongyang.
“We’re reviewing all the status of North Korea, both in terms of state sponsorship of terrorism as well as the other ways in which we can bring pressure on the regime in Pyongyang to re-engage with us, but re-engage with us on a different footing than past talks have been held,” Tillerson told reporters in Washington on Wednesday.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, on a tour of Asian allies, has said repeatedly the “era of strategic patience” with North Korea is over.
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, on a visit to London, said the military option must be part of the pressure brought to bear.
“Allowing this dictator to have that kind of power is not something that civilized nations can allow to happen,” he said in reference to Kim.
Ryan said he was encouraged by the results of efforts to work with China to reduce tensions, but that it was unacceptable North Korea might be able to strike allies with nuclear weapons.
North and South Korea are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
‘Kim WILL push the nuclear button’: North Korean defector – dictator will stop at nothing to nuke US as a ‘last stand’
- North Korean defector Hyeonseo Lee was 17 when she escaped reclusive nation
- She thought life was ‘normal’ until dead bodies littered the streets after famine
- Says her home country is ‘most horrible on earth’ and its people ‘brainwashed’
- Hyeonseo, 37, is convinced its dictator Kim Jong-un does have nuclear weapons
- ‘He would launch missiles at South Korea, Japan, America,’ she told MailOnline
Hyeonseo Lee, who escaped in a daring mission through China, says the despotic leader would ‘certainly’ launch his deadly arsenal if he faced defeat at the hands of the US.
‘At the very last minute, when he finds out that he’s going to lose all his power he’s definitely going to use it,’ she told MailOnline in a fascinating interview highlighting what life is really like inside the secretive state.
‘There’s a slogan in North Korea which goes: ‘America dies, we die, we all die together’.
‘He would launch missiles at South Korea, Japan and America. He’s a dictator who’d have nowhere to go and there would be no way to stop him.
Hyeonseo, now 37, went on to reveal how most North Koreans are ‘brainwashed’ into believing the regime’s propaganda and how the thousands who are forced to attend military parades ‘pee their pants’ because they are forbidden from leaving.
North Korea has defied UN sanctions by threatening to launch nuclear missile tests ‘weekly’ and warned President Donald Trump it will ‘annihilate’ America if it provokes them.
And this weekend Kim Jong-un paraded new ballistic rockets, tanks and his never before seen Special Forces units through the streets of Pyongyang in a show of strength against Trump, who has refused to rule out a preemptive strike should Kim reach for the nuclear button.
From the safety of her new home in the South Korean capital of Seoul, where she has lived for eight years, Hyeonseo says her former compatriots are tricked into believing Kim commands the most powerful military force on earth.
‘The weapons they paraded this time were all new,’ she said.
‘Kim wanted the world to see they have more powerful bombs and rockets than ever before and he wanted to showing America they have they’re ready to fight them.
‘Most people in the country didn’t – and might still not – know about how powerful the United States is. They think North Korean weapons are the best in the world and they’re very proud of them. They believe they can protect the country from anyone.’
She also revealed how the thousands who lined the streets and frantically waved flags at the annual Day Of The Sun parade are secretly ‘sick and tired’ of being forced to attend such events.
‘It’s all for praising the supreme leader [Kim], not about unity,’ she said. ‘People who didn’t have money to spend on food and travel had to practice for countless hours just to wave flags and clap.
‘The people in the crowd are sick of it [taking part in the parade]. They are still proud of the army but they don’t want to take part in these events.
Bestseller: Hyeonseo Lee’s account of her experience has been read all over the world
‘It is so tiring that it weakens your bones and joints… and you can’t even watch it at home, you have to go and watch it in person if you’re living in Pyongyang.
‘Even if you want to go to the toilet you can’t, so we had to pee in our pants.’
Hyeonseo openly regards her country of birth as ‘the most horrible on earth’ but she once thought it was the greatest, as many of her former compatriots still do.
The prominent defector, who has written a bestselling book about her extraordinary lifestory, even continued to believe her life was normal long after her school cancelled classes and forced students to watch a public execution when she was seven-years-old.
‘It was the first time in my life I saw a public execution,’ she said. ‘These days they are killing people by shooting… the hangings were scarier because they were closer to the crowds.
‘What frightened me the most was the huge crowd. I was too young to really know what was going on but I was scared that a man was dying in front of me, being strangled under the bridge.
‘There’s a rule that the victim’s immediate family and relatives have to stand at the very front to see their family member dying in front of them.’
What weapons does Kim Jong-un have?
Much has been made of whether Kim Jong-un has the nuclear capability to launch a nuclear strike against his enemies but the secretive and propagandist nature of his country make it difficult to be sure.
The Institute for Science and International Security believed the secretive has as many as 21 weapons of mass destruction and four warheads.
It estimated each of these weapons would have around half the power of the bomb the United States dropped on Japan in the Second World War.
During the Day Of The Sun military parade over the weekend, Kim rolled out a vast array of ‘new weapons’ as a show of force against the United States.
- KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missiles which can fly as far as 7,000 miles, within range of Los Angeles and New York
- New solid-fuel missiles which can be fired from land or under the sea. South Korea is particularly concerned about these rockets because they are difficult to detect
- Pukguksong missiles, which can be fired from a submarine and have a range of around 310 miles
- The Pukguksong-2, a land-based variant of the submarine-launched missile. Also known as the KN-15