“The rejection of negotiations on a freeze would be consistent with the approach taken by President Barack Obama, who declined Chinese offers to restart the so-called six-party talks that stalled several years ago — which included North Korea, China, Russia, Japan, South Korea and the United States — unless the North agreed at the outset that the goal of the negotiations was the “complete, verifiable, irreversible” dismantling of its program. South Korea’s foreign minister, Yun Byung-se, repeated that formulation today; Mr. Tillerson did not.
“But classified assessments of the North that the Obama administration left for its successors included a grim assessment by the intelligence community: that North Korea’s leader, Mr. Kim, believes his nuclear weapons program is the only way to guarantee the survival of his regime and will never trade it away for economic or other benefits”
The secretary of state, visiting South Korea, said for the first time that the Trump administration might act pre-emptively if the threat hit an unacceptable level.
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