U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson talked tough against North Korea, including openly mentioning military strikes, but the real policy isn't likely to be much different from that of the previous administration, a U.S. expert said Sunday.
While visiting Seoul and Tokyo, Tillerson said that the two decades of diplomatic efforts to disarm the North failed, and there was no point in pursuing the diplomatic path any longer. He also said that the U.S. was considering a wide range of options, including the use of military force.
Tillerson also declared an end to former President Barack Obama's much-denounced North Korea policy, known as "strategic patience," which centers on waiting for Pyongyang to show good faith while increasing sanctions and pressure on the regime.
Tillerson's remarks sound tough, but the substance won't be much different from the strategic patience policy, according to Ken Gause, a North Korea expert who is director of the international affairs group at CNA Corp. in Washington.
"Much of the rhetoric sounds like strategic patience. The U.S. is going to continue to apply pressure on North Korea through sanctions; we are going to pressure China to get North Korea to do the right thing. Although we haven't taken the military option off the table, it doesn't sound like it is the preferred option," Gause said.
"I just see more of the same -- sanctions and pressure. Maybe some adjustments around the edges to make the policy more severe. However, the lack of a balanced strategy of carrots and sticks will hamstring any U.S.-North Korea policy," he said.
The expert said that Tillerson's tough talk in Seoul and Tokyo appeared to be aimed at a number of different audiences, and designed to show that the era of strategic patience has ended and the U.S. is moving "boldly in a new direction, getting tough on North Korea." (Yonhap)