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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson threatens pre-emptive strike on North Korea if Pyongyang chooses to 'elevate threat'

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday in South Korea that all options are "on the table" regarding North Korea's nuclear weapons programs, including a pre-emptive U.S. strike "if they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action." The U.S. does not want a military conflict with North Korea, he said at a press conference in Seoul, "but obviously if North Korea takes actions that threaten South Korean forces or our own forces, that would be met with (an) appropriate response."

The U.S. keeping a military option open on North Korea is not new, but U.S. officials don't normally make the threat explicit or publicly. Tillerson is on the second of three stops of a tour of Asia, following a visit to Japan and right before he heads to China. Beijing has been urging the U.S. and North Korea to return to multilateral peace talks, but Tillerson ruled that out for now. "The policy of strategic patience has ended," Tillerson said, referring to the Obama administration's decision to wait for North Korea to collapse and slowly increasing sanctions, pressure, and covert activity.

In the past year, Pyongyang has fired 24 test ballistic missile and conducted two nuclear tests, in violation of multiple U.N. Security Council sanctions. You can learn more in the CNN report below. Peter Weber