Tillerson on North Korea: 'Americans should sleep well at night'

Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Supreme Court lets Texas abortion law stand Trump-era ban on travel to North Korea extended Want to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump MORE on Wednesday sought to assure the American people that there is not "any imminent threat" from North Korea despite rising tensions with the nation.

"Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days," Tillerson said in Guam.

President Trump on Tuesday ratcheted up his rhetoric against the government in North Korea, warning it will face "fire, fury and, frankly, power" if it threatens the United States.

Tillerson downplayed the warning, which many interpreted as a threat to wage nuclear war, saying Trump was simply trying to send a message.


“What the president is doing is sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong Un can understand, because he doesn’t seem to understand diplomatic language,” Tillerson said. “I think the president just wanted to be clear to the North Korean regime on the U.S.'s unquestionable ability to defend itself, will defend itself and its allies.”

The secretary of State also said he hasn't seen anything that "would indicate the situation has dramatically changed in the last 24 hours."

Tensions around North Korea quickly escalated Tuesday after The Washington Post reported that the country has miniaturized a nuclear warhead that can fit on a missile, though it remains unclear whether it has the capacity to deliver it to a target.

Trump responded to the report with a warning to Kim.

“He has been very threatening beyond a normal state, and as I said, they will be met with fire, fury and, frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before,” the president said to reporters at his New Jersey golf club. 

After his comments, North Korea raised the possibility of missile strikes on Guam.

Tillerson stressed that the administration is hopeful that diplomacy and pressure from China and Russia can convince North Korea to "reconsider the current pathway they’re on and think about engaging in a dialogue about a different future."

— This story was updated at 11:36 a.m.