An uptick in tension between the USA and North Korea is the result of a strategic shift in Washington, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Sunday evening, away from "strategic patience" and towards "strategic accountability".
In a big u-turn on North Korea, US administration has begun de-escalation.
Speaking at an event in California on Thursday, Mattis said his mission and responsibility was to have military options ready "should they be needed" but stressed the USA effort is now focused on diplomacy. Recent statements by members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as well as other regional and global voices, have made clear the worldwide community holds one view regarding North Korea's provocative and risky actions: They must stop.
In response, Trump threatened North Korea last week with "fire and fury like the world has never seen" should it continue its threatening behavior.
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A second vote will now take place on the bill before it is submitted to a clerical body for final approval. The vote came after fresh U.S. sanctions in July against Iran, targeting Tehran's missile programme.
Mattis did not elaborate on the diplomatic results he referenced, but the UN Security Council at the weekend passed a new set of sanctions against Pyongyang over its weapons program, including bans on the export of coal, iron and iron ore, lead and lead ore as well as fish and seafood.
Top U.S. officials confirmed their united front on North Korea: denuclearization through a new policy of "strategic accountability", and not regime change, is what they seek from Pyongyang in a time of heightened tensions.
North Korea on Thursday announced a detailed plan to launch a salvo of ballistic missiles toward the US Pacific territory of Guam, a major military hub and home to US bombers.
"North Korea now faces a choice", they wrote.