U.S. military action against North Korea is not an imminent possibility, U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Joseph Yun said on Thursday, while stressing that “all options are on the table” to deter Pyongyang.
Speaking to press in Tokyo, Japan, Yun stressed that the United States backed a diplomatic solution to the issue of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile program.
“Our policy is very much for the peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear crisis. We’ve said over and over again that what we want to see is dialogue,” the Special Representative said, in comments carried by Reuters.
“Having said that, we also have said that all options are on the table and by all options, it has to include military options,” he added. “I don’t believe we are close to it.”
Pyongyang must also make it clear to Washington if it is willing to engage in dialogue, Yun said, emphasizing that diplomacy cannot be done “with smoke signals.”
Yun stressed that any freeze in missile testing intended to represent an open for talks would have to be clearly communicated by Pyongyang.
Joseph Yun was reported in late October to have floated the idea that a North Korean pause in nuclear and missile testing for around 60 days “would be the signal the United States needs to resume direct dialogue with Pyongyang.”
It has now been 66 days since North Korea test-launched the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which state media has claimed is capable of hitting the “entire” U.S. mainland.
Following a similarly extended pause in November, however, Yun insisted that North Korea would have to provide the U.S. with a signal it was interested in talks.
Tuesday’s news that the United States would not be nominating Victor Cha as ambassador to South Korea – a decision reportedly partially influenced by Cha’s opposition to military action against the North – has reignited fears that the Trump administration could start a war.
So, too, did the U.S. President’s State of the Union address just hours later, in which Trump warned that North Korean missile would “soon threaten our homeland.”
Saying that past administrations had taught Washington that “complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation” Trump told lawmakers that he would “not repeat the mistakes” of his predecessors.