As reported by Censor.NET citing CNN, speaking at a special U.S.-hosted U.N. meeting to address the challenge, he urged the world community to drastically increase pressure on North Korea, warning that failure to do so could be "catastrophic" and that the U.S. is prepared to take military action against the rogue regime if necessary.
"All options for responding to future provocations must remain on the table.
"Diplomatic and financial leverage or power will be backed up by willingness to counteract North Korean aggression with military action, if necessary," Tillerson said.
The U.S. top diplomat called on member countries to take three immediate steps, singling out China and warning that countries that don't comply may face consequences. He got pushback in response from China, which accused the U.S. of raising tensions with Pyongyang.
He urged nations to fully enforce existing sanctions on North Korea, suspend or downgrade diplomatic relations with the already isolated country and increase its financial isolation by targeting countries and individuals that support its nuclear and ballistic missile program.
The U.S. "would much prefer countries and people in question to own up to their lapses and correct their behavior themselves," Tillerson said, referring to nations that haven't fully enforced sanctions in the past. "But we will not hesitate to sanction third country entities and individuals supporting the DPRK's illegal activities."
"For too long the international community has been reactive," Tillerson said, telling the Security Council that the era of "strategic patience" is over. "The more we bide our time, the sooner we will run out of it."