Tillerson: U.S. will back Japan, South Korea with ‘full range’ of nuclear, conventional capabilities

by WorldTribune Staff, February 17, 2017

In the wake of North Korea’s latest test of a nuclear-capable missile, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Feb. 16 vowed that Washington would defend Japan and South Korea with its full arsenal, including nuclear weapons.

“The United States remains steadfast in its defense commitments to its allies, the Republic of Korea and Japan, including the commitment to provide extended deterrence, backed by the full range of its nuclear and conventional defense capabilities,” Tillerson said in a joint statement after meeting the Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers in Bonn, Germany.

From left: Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se. /AFP

North Korea said the latest missile it tested, on Feb. 12, could carry a nuclear warhead. South Korean officials said the North Korean rocket traveled some 500 kilometers before it came down in the Sea of Japan.

The joint statement said Tillerson, South Korea’s Yun Byung-Se and Japan’s Fumio Kishida “condemned in the strongest terms” the test which was carried out in “flagrant disregard” for multiple UN Security Council resolutions.

The three countries would work together to ensure that further violations would be “met with an even stronger international response,” the statement said, demanding that Pyongyang abandon its nuclear and missile programs.

Shortly after the missile test, U.S. President Donald Trump said North Korea was “a big, big problem … and we will deal with that very strongly.”

Earlier this month on a trip to Seoul and Tokyo, U.S. Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis warned that “any use of nuclear weapons would be met with a response that would be effective and overwhelming.”