SEOUL, April 20( Reuters) – North Korean state media cautioned the United States of a” super-mighty preemptive strike” after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States was looking at ways to bring pressure to bear on North Korea over its nuclear program.

President Donald Trump has taken a hard line with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who has rebuffed warnings from sole major friend China and carried out with nuclear and missile programs in defiance of U.N. Security Council sanctions.

The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, did not mince its words.

” In the case of our super-mighty preemptive strike being launched, it will completely and immediately wipe out not only U.S. imperialists’ invasion forces-out in South Korea and its surrounding areas but the U.S. mainland and reduce them to ashes ,” it said.

KCNA KCNA/ Reuters Military vehicles carry weapons during a military procession marking the 105 th birth anniversary of country’s founding father Kim Il Sung,

Reclusive North Korea regularly threatens to destroy Japan, South Korea and the United States and has shown no let-up in its belligerence after a failed missile exam on Sunday, a day after putting on a huge showing of weapons at a procession in Pyongyang.

” We’re reviewing all the status of North Korea, both in terms of state sponsorship of terrorism as well as the other ways in which we can bring pressure on the regime in Pyongyang to re-engage with us, but re-engage with us on a different footing than past talks have been held ,” Tillerson told reporters in Washington on Wednesday.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, on a tour of Asian allies, has said repeatedly an” epoch of strategic patience” with North Korea is over.

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said during a visit to London the military option must be part of the pressure brought to bear.

” Permitting this despot to have that kind of power is not something that civilized nations can allow to happen ,” he said in reference to Kim.

Ryan said he was encouraged by the results of efforts to work with China to reduce tension, but that it was unacceptable North Korea might be able to strike allies with nuclear weapons.

North and South Korea are technically still at war because their 1950 -5 3 conflict ended in a truce , not a peace treaty.

‘MAX THUNDER’

South Korea’s acting president, Hwang Kyo-ahn, at a meeting with top officials on Thursday, repeatedly called for the military and security ministries to maintain vigilance.

The defense ministry told U.S. and South Korean us air force were conducting an annual training workout, codenamed Max Thunder, until April 28. North Korea routinely labels such exercises preparations for invasion.

” We are conducting a practical and more intensive workout than ever ,” South Korean pilot Lieutenant Colonel Lee Bum-chul told reporters.” Through this exercise, I am sure we can deter war and remove our enemy’s intention to provoked us .”

South Korean presidential candidates clashed on Wednesday night in a debate over the planned deployment in South Korea of a U.S.-supplied Terminal High Altitude Area Defense( THAAD) anti-missile system, which has angered China.

Frontrunner Moon Jae-in was criticized for leaving his alternatives open before the May 9 election.

On Monday, Hwang and Pence reaffirmed their plans to go ahead with the THAAD, but the decision will be up to the next South Korean president. For my own part, China tells the system’s powerful radar is a threat to its security.

The North has said it has developed a missile that can strike the two sides of the strait United States, but officials and experts believe it is some time away from mastering the necessary technology, including miniaturizing a nuclear warhead.

RUSSIA, U.S. AT ODDS

The United States and Russia clashed at the United Nations on Wednesday over a U.S.-drafted Security Council statement to condemn North Korea’s latest failed ballistic missile test.

Diplomats told China had agreed to the statement.

Such statements by the 15 -member council have to be agreed by consensus.

Previous statements denouncing missile launchings” welcomed endeavors by council members, as well as other states, to facilitate a peaceful and comprehensive answer through dialog .” The latest draft statement fell” through dialog” and Russia requested it be included again.

” When we requested to restore the agreed language that was of political importance and carried commitment to continue to work on the draft … the U.S. delegation without providing any rationales canceled the work on the draft ,” the Russian U.N. mission said in a statement.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told China believed in the Security Council preserving unity.

” Speaking with one voice is extremely important to the Security Council appropriately responding to the relevant question on the peninsula ,” he told reporters.

There has been some disarray over the whereabouts of a U.S. aircraft carrier group after Trump said last week he had sent an “armada” as a warn to North Korea, even as the vessel were still far away from Korean waters.

The U.S. military’s Pacific Command explained that the USS Carl Vinson strike group first had to complete a shorter-than-planned period of training with Australia. It was now heading for the Western Pacific as ordered, it said.

China’s influential Global Times newspaper, which is published by the People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s official paper, wondered whether the misdirection was deliberate.

” The truth seems to be that the U.S. military and president jointly made fake news and it is without doubt a rare scandal in U.S. history, which will be bound to cripple Trump’s and U.S. dignity ,” it said.