The possibility of a naval blockade surfaced immediately after North Korea launched what is believed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in the small hours of Wednesday, ending its 75-day hiatus in provocations.
North Korea yesterday blasted the USA and South Korea as "warmongers" on the eve of their largest-ever joint air exercise, saying it could trigger a nuclear war.
The months-long nuclear standoff between Kim and Trump has fueled concerns of another conflict, but even some Trump advisers say United States military options are limited when Pyongyang could launch an artillery barrage on the South Korean capital, Seoul, which is about 50km from the border and home to 10 million people.
During a speech in St. Charles, Mo., on November 29, President Trump referred to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as "Little Rocket Man" and "sick puppy".
The official also insisted the North's latest missile provocation may not warrant military action despite Pyongyang's earlier claim that the launch was successful and that it marked the completion of building what it called a "state nuclear force".
Tal Inbar, the head of the space research center at the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, observed on Twitter that the reentry vehicle, or the tip of the missile that must return down to earth, was "HUGE". Elleman estimates that the missiles would struggle even to reach the US's west coast with a reasonably size nuclear warhead aboard.
In a tweet, Trump delivered another insulting barb against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who he called "Little Rocket Man" and a "sick puppy" after North Korea test-fired its most advanced missile to date on Wednesday.
Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
But North Korea just showed a domestically made missile and missile launcher. This is important given the calls for a tightening of worldwide sanctions against North Korea.
In short, it showed that even with the Trump administration's "maximum pressure" policy, aircraft carriers nearby, and U.S. jets buzzing around, it seems on track to build a credible nuclear weapon. We do think they could do more with the oil. "Our options to stop them are still terrible", Robert Kelly, an associate professor of political science at Pusan National University in South Korea, told the Los Angeles Times.
While Trump has been bellicose at times in rhetoric toward North Korea, Tillerson has persistently held out hopes for a return to dialogue if North Korea shows it is willing to give up its nuclear weapons program.
He said this is probably much lighter than any real nuclear payload the North can produce.
Sergey Lavrov's statement at a Rome news conference with his Italian counterpart on Friday came two days after Ambassador Nikki Haley said that if war breaks out over North Korea's missile tests, the country would be "utterly destroyed". "We're really asking them to please restrain more of the oil, not cut it off completely", Tillerson said at the State Department.