North Korea’s nuclear program will be high on the agenda when President Donald Trump meets Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida on Thursday. The U.S. President says Beijing has not done enough to bridle the regime’s aggressive behavior, and on Wednesday Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un gave a perfect illustration: firing another ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan.
In response, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released an extraordinary statement, saying, “The U.S. has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment.” This came after Trump told the U.K.’s Financial Times last week that the U.S. would consider unilateral action against North Korea if China refused to help.
“Well, if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will,” he said. Asked whether the U.S. could tackle North Korea “one on one,” Trump was emphatic: “Totally.”
During his visit to East Asia last month, Tillerson had already raised the temperature by insisting that military action remained “on the table.” In response, a Pyongyang spokesperson warned of “a preemptive nuclear attack … if the U.S. shows even the slightest sign of a preemptive attack on the DPRK [North Korea].”