US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says his country is considering putting North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism in order to “bring pressure on the regime in Pyongyang to re-engage with us.”
“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,” he said during a press conference on Wednesday at the State Department in Washington, DC.
“We are evaluating all of those options,” Tillerson said, following recent US rhetoric about military confrontation with North Korea.
Following Tillerson’s remarks, North Korea’s state media warned the United States of a "super-mighty preemptive strike.”
Earlier, US Vice President Mike Pence threatened North Korea with an “overwhelming” response to any use of conventional or nuclear weapons.
Speaking on the deck of a massive US aircraft carrier on Wednesday, Pence cautioned North Korea against testing the resolve of the US military.
"Those who would challenge our resolve or readiness should know, we will defeat any attack and beat any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective American response," Pence told 2,500 sailors aboard the USS Ronald Reagan at the US Yokosuka naval base in Tokyo Bay.
"The United States of America will always seek peace but under President Trump, the shield stands guard and the sword stands ready," he added.
The remarks came after North Korea conducted a missile launch on Sunday that the US called a failure.
Tensions have increased between North Korea and the US in recent weeks. The US has been unnerved by North Korea’s advancing missile and nuclear programs and has dispatched a military strike group to the Korean Peninsula. Pyongyang has said it is ready for war.
The prospects of a potential military confrontation have concerned regional countries
North Korea has threatened the US with “all-out war” and announced that Pyongyang would continue to test missiles on a weekly basis.
Pyongyang believes its missile and nuclear programs act as deterrence against a potential invasion by its adversaries, particularly the US.
The US has military forces in South Korea on a permanent basis, and routinely threatens the North with military action.