Still, the administration says it is open to direct talks with North Korea.
As tensions continue to escalate between North Korea and the United States, Donald Trump has said that nothing — not even a “major, major conflict” — is off the table.
Trump uttered those words in an interview with Reuters on Thursday when discussing North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
While he did concede that he would prefer a non-violent resolution to the problem — a view which appears to be corroborated by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s Friday announcement that he is willing to direct talks with North Korea — Trump added that such a solution might be challenging.
“We’d love to solve things diplomatically but it’s very difficult,” Trump told Reuters.
According to Tillerson, the talks will be viable if and only if North Korea agrees to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.
As Tillerson told NPR on Thursday, “You know if you listen to the North Korea, their reason for having nuclear weapons is they believe it is their only pathway to secure the ongoing existence of their regime,” Tillerson explained. “We hope to convince them is that: you do not need these weapons to secure the existence of your regime. … We do not seek a collapse of the regime. We do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula. We seek a denuclearized Korean peninsula.”
On Friday, Tillerson called on peers in the U.N. Security Council to “do more to enforce” already-existing sanctions on the country, NPR reported.
This meeting comes just days after Donald Trump called all members of the Security Council to Washington, D.C., where he articulated the same message.
“The council must be prepared to impose additional and stronger sanctions on North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” the president said.
The stated concern comes after Kim Jong-Un, the North Korean dictator, has ordered a significant amount of missile tests and nuclear tests over the past year — and at rates much higher than previously seen.
For more on North Korea, check out these photos of life in Pyongyang.