United Nations: Sending a tough warning to North Korea, the US on Friday said the policy of strategic patience was over and no options are off the table in dealing with the nuclear threat posed by Pyongyang.
Washington's goal is "not regime change" in the isolated country nor does it "desire to threaten the North Korean people or destabilise the Asia Pacific region", US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at a UN Security Council meeting on North Korea here said.
"The policy of strategic patience is over. Additional patience will only mean acceptance of a nuclear North Korea. The more we bide our time the sooner we will run out of it," Tillerson said while chairing the meeting as President of the Council.
He, however, warned that no options are off the table in dealing with the nuclear threat posed by North Korea.
"All options for responding to future provocation must remain on the table. Diplomatic and financial levers of power will be backed up by willingness to counteract North Korean aggression with military action if necessary," he said.
Tillerson said while the US would "much prefer" a negotiated solution to the problem, "we are committed to defending ourselves and our allies against North Korean aggression".
Ruling out any immediate talks between Washington and Pyongyang, he said "North Korea must take concrete steps to reduce the threat that its illegal weapons programmes pose to the US and our allies before we can even consider talks".
Tillerson said since 1995, the US has provided over USD 1.3 billion in aid to North Korea and "we look forward to resuming our contributions once the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) begins to dismantle its nuclear weapons and missile technology programs".
Warning that the threat of a North Korean nuclear attack on its southern neighbour (South Korea) or Japan is "real", he said it is likely a matter of time before North Korea develops the capability to strike the US mainland.
Tillerson said given Pyongyang's rhetoric, "the US cannot idly stand by nor can other members of this Council come within striking distance of North Korean missiles".
Asserting that the international community has for too long been "reactive" in addressing North Korea, Tillerson said such days must come to an end as he made his first address to the 15-nation Council since taking over as the Trump administration's top diplomat.
"Failing to act now on the most pressing security issue in the world may bring catastrophic consequences," he said.
He called on the international community to implement the UNSC resolutions against North Korea and put new pressure on the country to abandon "its dangerous path" and urged the Security Council to act before Pyongyang does.
Tillerson said that those nations which have not fully enforced the UNSC resolutions against North Korea discredit the UN body.
The US called on countries to suspend or downgrade diplomatic relations with North Korea.
"North Korea exploits its diplomatic privileges to fund its illicit nuclear missile technology programmes. In light of North Korea's recent actions, normal relations with the DPRK are simply not acceptable".
The international community must increase its financial isolation of North Korea and levy new sanctions on DPRK entities and individuals supporting its weapons and missile program.
"We will not hesitate to sanction third country entities and individuals supporting DPRK's illegal activities," Tillerson said.
Calling out China to use its leverage over North Korea, Tillerson said Beijing accounts for 90 per cent of North Korean trade alone and has "economic leverage over Pyongyang that is unique. Its role is therefore particularly important".
"We must be willing to face the hard truth and make hard choices right now to prevent disastrous outcomes in the future. Business as usual is not an option," Tillerson added.