Visiting U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Friday that all options are on the table to resolve the Korean Peninsula's nuclear issue.
Tillerson said during a joint press conference with his South Korean counterpart Yun Byung-se in Seoul that all of diplomatic, security and economic measures and all options will be reviewed for the peninsula's denuclearization.
"All options are on the table," said the top U.S. diplomat who arrived here earlier in the day for the second stop of his first East Asian tour since taking office.
He visited Japan on Thursday, meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. He is scheduled to fly to China on Saturday.
Before the press conference, Tillerson toured the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that has divided the two Koreas since the three-year Korean War ended in 1953 with an armistice. He also visited the truce village of Panmunjom inside the DMZ.
Tillerson said a so-called "strategic patience" policy toward the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has ended, referring to the U.S. foreign policy in the past decade under which Washington had refrained from having talks with Pyongyang before its sincere efforts at denuclearization.
The top U.S. diplomat indicated a need for tougher UN Security Council sanctions on the DPRK's nuclear program, but he did not go so far as to say that any immediate military action is required.
Tillerson said the United States is prepared to take a military action if necessary, but he said Washington do not want to cause military conflicts.
He said that if the DPRK conducts any provocative act to threaten South Korea and the U.S. forces stationed here, his country will take action against it.
The United States, he said, would come to the dialogue table for the peninsula's denuclearization only if the DPRK gives up its nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction.
Meanwhile, the South Korean foreign minister said it was urgent to deal with the DPRK's advanced nuclear threats, and that he will discuss countermeasures against the threats with his U.S. counterpart who has said Washington is examining a "new approach" to the peninsula's nuclear issue.
Yun said no change has been made in the joint goal of the two allies to achieve a complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.
Pyongyang carried out its fourth and fifth nuclear tests last year, the latest in September, while test-firing ballistic missiles over 20 times in 2016 alone.
The DPRK test-launched four ballistic missiles earlier in the month, after testing a new type of missile the previous month that uses solid fuel and is fired from a mobile launcher, two key features indicating its advanced ballistic missile technology.