Tiller­son: Mis­sile strike car­ries mes­sage

Though un­said, North Korea meant as re­cip­i­ent

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD -

Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son says the U.S. mis­sile strikes against a Syr­ian air base in re­tal­i­a­tion for a chem­i­cal weapon at­tack car­ries a mes­sage for any na­tion op­er­at­ing out­side of in­ter­na­tional norms. He didn’t spec­ify North Korea, but the con­text was clear enough.

“If you vi­o­late in­ter­na­tional agree­ments, if you fail to live up to com­mit­ments, if you be­come a threat to oth­ers, at some point a re­sponse is likely to be un­der­taken,” Mr. Tiller­son told ABC’s “This Week.”

There was lit­tle doubt the mis­sile strikes would be seen in Py­ongyang as a mes­sage. The North has long claimed that the U.S. is pre­par­ing some kind of as­sault against it and jus­ti­fies its nu­clear weapons as de­fen­sive in na­ture.

U.S. Navy ships are a com­mon pres­ence in the Korean Penin­sula re­gion and serve in part as a show of force. On Satur­day night, the Pen­tagon said a Navy car­rier strike group was mov­ing to­ward the west­ern Pa­cific Ocean to pro­vide more of a phys­i­cal pres­ence in the re­gion.

Pres­i­dent Trump’s na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, de­scribed the de­ci­sion to send the car­rier group as pru­dent. He said Mr. Trump and Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping had agreed that North Korea’s pat­tern of “provoca­tive be­hav­ior” was un­ac­cept­able and the U.S. was act­ing ac­cord­ingly.

“This is a rogue regime that is now a nu­clear-ca­pa­ble regime. … So the pres­i­dent has asked us to be pre­pared to give him a full range of op­tions to re­move that threat to the Amer­i­can peo­ple and our al­lies and part­ners in that re­gion,” Gen. McMaster said on “Fox News Sun­day.”

North Korea has pledged to bol­ster its de­fenses to pro­tect against airstrikes. The North called the U.S. ac­tion in Syria “ab­so­lutely un­par­don­able” and said it proves that its nu­clear weapons are jus­ti­fied to pro­tect the coun­try against Wash­ing­ton’s “ev­er­more reck­less moves for a war.”

The com­ments were made by a For­eign Min­istry of­fi­cial and car­ried by North Korea’s state-run Korean Cen­tral News Agency on Sun­day. The re­port did not name the of­fi­cial, which is com­mon in KCNA re­ports.

In ap­pear­ances on the Sun­day news shows, Mr. Tiller­son said ad­vances in North Korea’s bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­gram con­cerned the U.S. the most.

Asked on ABC if de­vel­op­ment of an in­tercon­ti­nen­tal mis­sile was a “red line” for Trump, Mr. Tiller­son said: “If we judge that they have per­fected that type of de­liv­ery sys­tem, then that be­comes a very se­ri­ous stage of their fur­ther de­vel­op­ment.”

The mis­sile strikes against Syria’s gov­ern­ment took place Thurs­day night as Mr. Trump hosted Mr. Xi for din­ner at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida. Among the topics of dis­cus­sion was the vex­ing prob­lem of North Korea.

“I think there’s a shared view and no dis­agree­ment as to how dan­ger­ous the sit­u­a­tion has be­come,” Mr. Tiller­son said on CBS’ “Face the Na­tion.” He added, “And I think even China is be­gin­ning to rec­og­nize that this presents a threat … to China’s in­ter­ests as well.”

Mr. Trump and South Korea’s leader, act­ing Pres­i­dent Hwang Kyo-Ahn, spoke by phone Fri­day, ac­cord­ing to the White House, which said they agreed to stay in close con­tact about North Korea and other is­sues.


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