Rex Tillerson Offers ‘No Comment’ on North Korea Missile Launch

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday that the U.S. has nothing further to say publicly about North Korea, after the country conducted the latest in a series of missile tests as President Donald Trump prepares to meet for the first time with his Chinese counterpart.

“North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile,” read a statement by Tillerson released by the State Department. “The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment.”

South Korean officials said North Korea had fired a ballistic missile into the waters off the country’s eastern coast Wednesday morning local time. The U.S. said that initial assessments indicated it was a KN-15 medium-range ballistic missile that flew about 37 miles from its origin in the town of Sinpo and descended in the Sea of Japan, the Associated Press reports.

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Tuesday’s test marked the latest escalation in the North Korean nuclear threat; Pyongyang has conducted several missile tests since the start of the year.

Meanwhile, Trump is set to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, where the two are expected to discuss cooperation toward defusing the threat of a nuclear North Korea.

In an interview with the Financial Times published Sunday, Trump said he planned to negotiate with Xi for further cooperation, likely using trade and the threat of sanctions to coax China into helping the U.S. Beijing is wary, however, of America’s deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) antimissile system in South Korea, complicating the discussions.

Read more: Can North Korea Actually Hit the U.S. With a Nuclear Missile?

Trump warned that if he cannot secure assistance from Beijing, the U.S. was prepared to handle North Korea on its own, though he declined to detail any specific actions Washington might take against Pyongyang.

During his first diplomatic visits to both Seoul and Beijing in March, Tillerson stressed that “the policy of strategic patience has ended,” suggesting that the U.S. could consider a range of responses to North Korean aggression, including a possible preemptive strike. “We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security and economic measures,” Tillerson said. “All options are on the table.”

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