Tensions with North Korea still simmering despite diplomacy talk

THE WHITE HOUSE -- The U.S. and North Korea seem headed for a showdown over the North’s nuclear program. On Wednesday, they both turned up the heat.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday the U.S. wants to force North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to the negotiating table, offering diplomacy as a way to avoid a military clash.

“We are reviewing all the status of North Korea both in terms of state sponsorship of terrorism as well as all the other ways in which we can bring pressure to bear on the regime in Pyongyang,”  Tillerson said.

A North Korean propaganda video surfaced Wednesday showing Kim at a concert. Its centerpiece was a video simulation of a missile strike on the U.S.

“The United States of America will always seek peace,” Vice President Mike Pence said while on a tour of the region. He vowed overwhelming force if the North provokes the U.S. military.

“Under President Trump, the shield stands guard and the sword stands ready,” Pence said. 

The U.S. has no diplomatic relations with Pyongyang, which has made no secret of its nuclear ambitions, and U.S. presidents have long pressured China to rein in its neighbor.

At their recent Mar-a-Lago summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping cautioned Mr. Trump against any U.S. military action in North Korea.

Chinese officials told CBS News that his message was clear: “We do not want war or chaos on the doorstep of China” and diplomacy is the only “workable” solution.”
 
But imprecise communication has muddied the waters with some U.S. regional allies. In an interview on April 12, Mr. Trump suggested that a battle group of U.S. warships -- including the USS Carl Vinson -- was racing toward the region.

“We are sending an armada, very powerful,” Mr. Trump said.

But those ships, at the time, were headed in the opposite direction. The White House is trying to reassure nervous allies and says it was not simply a bluff -- the ships are scheduled to arrive at the end of the month.

  • Margaret Brennan

    Principally assigned to the State Department, Margaret Brennan also serves as a CBS News general assignment correspondent based in Washington, D.C.