The first year of Donald Trump’s presidency has been marked with brief spurts where it appears the U.S. is closer than it’s been since World War II to using nuclear weapons because of ongoing tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. While President Trump hasn’t helped matters by sending provocations through Twitter, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been trying to do … something, to which Trump previously responded that Tillerson was “wasting his time.”
Yet after issuing a series of sanctions and North Korea testing an intercontinental ballistic missile, Tillerson said on Tuesday that the U.S. is now backing off from its demand that North Korea dismantle its nuclear arsenal as a prerequisite for diplomatic talks to start. But in a sign that could be connected to Tillerson’s uncertain job status, the White House released a statement that didn’t exactly back the current Secretary of State:
The White House later issued an ambiguous statement that left unclear whether President Donald Trump — who has said Tillerson was wasting his time pursuing dialogue with North Korea — had given his approval for the speech.
“The president’s views on North Korea have not changed,” the White House said. “North Korea is acting in an unsafe way … North Korea’s actions are not good for anyone and certainly not good for North Korea.”
North Korea has so far not committed to any talks with the U.S. and is reportedly ramping up its development of biological weapons. Meanwhile, the U.S. and South Korea continue to hold joint military exercises.