"Era of strategic patience is over", Pence warns North Korea

Nick Mcbride
April 21, 2017

Vice President Mike Pence issued a fresh warning to North Korea from the deck of a US aircraft carrier in Japan, hours after reports emerged that the approaching "armada" Donald Trump touted last week was still thousands of miles away.

The Trump team has signaled it intends to chart a new path when it comes to dealing with North Korea, though analysts say there aren't too many new options to try.

After a two-month policy review, officials settled on a policy dubbed "maximum pressure and engagement", US officials said on Friday.

"For my part, in some odd way, it's encouraging that they're getting the message", Pence said.

Pence, who yesterday travelled to Japan, arrived in South Korea just hours after North Korea launched its latest ballistic missile - which exploded within a few seconds - and amid a weekend of fanfare in North Korea, during which the regime showed off what appeared to be new missiles. "But the people in North Korea should make no mistake that the United States of America and our allies will see to the security of this region and see to the security of the people of our country".

A senior North Korean official said Monday that the USA has "created a unsafe situation in which a thermonuclear war may break out at any minute".

The U.S.is trying to ratchet up pressure on North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

“I hope there will be no unilateral actions like those we saw recently in Syria, ” Lavrov told reporters in Moscow.

The unannounced visit at the start of Pence's 10-day trip to Asia was a USA show of force that allowed him to gaze at North Korean soldiers from afar and stare directly across a border marked by razor wire.

"Are you concerned that what you are saying is being taken in North Korea as saber-rattling despite the fact that you're also talking about diplomacy?"

On Monday, Pence traveled to the tense Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea, where he warned North Korea's leaders that after years of testing the US and South Korea with its nuclear ambitions, "the era of strategic patience is over".

Pence then urged South Korea to "level that playing field" by reevaluating the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA).

"I think at the 100-day marker, the American people are going to conclude what I have concluded: President (Donald) Trump is off to a great start. President Trump is playing a very risky game indeed". South Korea is the U.S.'s sixth largest trading partner in goods.

The pressure would keep ratcheting up until Pyongyang stops conducting missile tests and demonstrates it is willing to engage in negotiations, said Susan Thornton, the acting Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. It is his first trip to Asia as vice president. Recent satellite imagery suggests the country could conduct another underground nuclear test at any time.

The US administration has come under criticism following revelations that the strike group led by the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson was actually heading in the opposite direction despite an earlier announcement that it would be heading to waters off the Korean Peninsula.

Other reports by VgToday

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