Tillerson Pledges Diplomacy With North Korea ‘Until the First Bomb Drops’

Updated on
  • Secretary of State says Trump wants him to continue talks
  • McMaster says Trump ‘willing to do anything’ to stop nukes

Seoul Braces for North Korean Launch

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says President Donald Trump wants him to push forward on diplomacy with North Korea “until the first bomb drops.”

Until?

Tillerson’s comments on CNN’s “State of the Union” program on Sunday apparently weren’t meant literally as a timeline for war, as he preceded that quote by saying, “He has made it clear to me to continue my diplomatic efforts,” and that those efforts “will continue until the first bomb drops.”

Rex Tillerson

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Still, they came as South Korean military officials are readying for another possible missile launch by Pyongyang. Multiple South Korean media reports citing unidentified military officials on Saturday and Sunday said North Korean missile vehicles “kept appearing and disappearing” from the map and “transporter erector launchers” had been spotted carrying ballistic missiles.

Several times, Trump has said on Twitter that diplomacy with North Korea -- including Tillerson’s own efforts -- was futile, saying on Oct. 7 that “only one thing will work!" in dealing with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s ambitions for nuclear weapons capable of reaching the U.S. Two days earlier, Trump had said cryptically during a dinner with military leaders that observers were witnessing “the calm before the storm.”

H. R. McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, said the president is “willing to do anything necessary” to prevent Kim from threatening the U.S. with a nuclear weapon.

“What Kim Jong Un should recognize is that if he thinks the development of this nuclear capability is keeping him safer, it’s actually the opposite. It’s having the opposite effect,” McMaster said on “Fox News Sunday.”

— With assistance by Ben Brody, and David McLaughlin

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