Tillerson: US Diplomacy With North Korea Will Continue Until "The First Bomb Drops"
Two weekends after Trump publicly snubbed and mocked Rex Tillerson's attempts to achieve a diplomatic resolution with North Korea, when the president tweeted that "I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man... Save your energy Rex, we'll do what has to be done!" just one day after Tillerson revealed for the first time that the US has been in direct, if secret, contact with Pyongyang over its missile and nuclear tests, on Sunday morning the Secretary of State - who remains in hot water with Trump over the recent NBC report that he called the president a "fucking moron" - doubled down and said that Trump had instructed him to continue diplomatic efforts to calm rising tensions with North Korea, saying "those diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb drops."
During an interview on CNN's "State of the Union," Tillerson said Trump is trying to "motivate action" on North Korea, adding that the president wants to be clear that he has military options on the table.
"The president has also made clear to me that he wants this solved diplomatically," Tillerson said but explained that "[Trump] is not seeking to go to war."
He said Trump has made it clear Tillerson should continue his diplomatic efforts in North Korea. "Those diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb drops," Tillerson said while White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said the president would do whatever is necessary to prevent an attack from North Korea on the U.S.
"Our president has been really clear, he's not going to permit this regime and Kim Jong Un to threaten the United States with a nuclear weapon," McMaster said on Fox News Sunday. "He's going to do anything necessary to prevent that from happening and what Kim Jong Un should recognize is that if he thinks the development of this nuclear capability is keeping him safer, it's actually the opposite," he continued.
It remains unclear just what provocative catalyst could prompt the US to launch the "first bomb drop", assuming of course North Korea doesn't do it first.
Separately, Tillerson also touched on the Iran deal, now in danger of falling apart, and said Sunday he believes staying in the Iran nuclear deal is in the best interest of the U.S. Speaking in the same CNN interview, Tillerson was asked whether he agrees with Defense Secretary James Mattis that he would not want Congress to immediately impose sanctions that would end the multilateral deal.
"I do agree with that," Tillerson said. "And I think the president does as well." Tillerson said the U.S. will see if it can address the flaws in the Iran nuclear deal by staying within the agreement and working with the country's friends and allies. "That may come in a secondary agreement as well," Tillerson said. He said the U.S. wants to fully enforce the agreement as it exists and "then begin the process of addressing the flaws."
His comments come after President Trump declared Friday that the Iran nuclear deal, because it is not being strictly enforced, is no longer in the national security interest of the United States. He stopped short of withdrawing from the Obama-era pact and demanded reforms.
“I am announcing today that we cannot and will not make this certification,” Trump said during a speech at the White House. The ball is now in Congress' court for the next 2 months to decide whether to keap the Iran deal or end it.
And finally, talking of balls...Tillerson stated on CNN Sunday that he’s "fully intact" in response to Sen. Bob Corker’s suggestion he’s been "castrated" by Trump.
As DailyCaller.com notes, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Tillerson, “You have a cattle ranch. You don’t want to say anything about the Senator suggesting you’ve been gelded before the world?”
Secretary Tillerson answered, “I checked. I’m fully intact.”
Tapper laughed and said, “I did not expect that answer.”