Pence Visiting Military Camp Near Korean DMZ

Donald Trump has drawn his own red line on North Korea's risky weapons program - equating a threatened intercontinental missile test with a nuclear weapon that could hit the U.S., the President tweeted bluntly in January: "It won't happen".

President Donald Trump has called North Korea a "problem" country and said it will be dealt with through a broad set of options, though they're vague for now.

"But the era of strategic patience is over", Pence said.

If Sunday's missile launch leads to a nuclear test or an ICBM launch, there would be "a powerful punishing measure that North Korean authority can't endure", South Korean officials said.

The vice president earlier visited a military installation near the DMZ, Camp Bonifas, for a briefing with military leaders at the joint U.S.

Earlier this week, as tensions worsened between Washington and Pyongyang, Trump ordered a US naval strike group headed by the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier to the Korean Peninsula in show of force.

Pence expects to talk about the "belligerence" of North Korea at stops in Tokyo, Jakarta and Sydney, the White House adviser said. "It's a great honor to be with all of our forces".

Meanwhile, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated his believe that pressure, not only dialogue, is necessary in dealing with North Korea's missile and nuclear threat. Please support our efforts.

"I think the Trump administration is trying to place maximum pressure, following through on what was discussed during his summit with Xi", a senior official at Seoul's Foreign Ministry said, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Tensions have been on the rise along the Korean Peninsula in recent weeks over concerns about North Korean aggression.

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Pence is tasked with explaining the policy in meetings with leaders in South Korea and Japan at the start of a 10-day tour that will include stops in Indonesia and Australia.

Urging strategic patience, she explained: "It's like your kids in the back of the auto on a long trip saying, 'When are we going to get there?' Well, in this case, I think we should give the Chinese president some opportunities and some time, as well as pursuing the economic and diplomatic pressures that we have and that our allies have that we can bring to bear on North Korea". The North was deemed to have completed preparations for another underground detonation, possibly to coincide with the birthday of late national founder Kim Il-sung on Saturday, while a United States air carrier strike group is en route to South Korea after altering its initial itinerary from Singapore to Australia.

An global consensus that includes China has now emerged that North Korea's "threatening behaviour" can not go on, the United States national security adviser said on Sunday. Last week, he said he would not declare China a currency manipulator, pulling back from a campaign promise, as he looks for help from Beijing, which is the North's dominant trade partner.

The White House foreign policy adviser traveling with Pence told reporters that the type of missile that North Korea tried to fire on Sunday was medium-range, and that it exploded about 4 to 5 seconds after it was launched. But he once again stressed the gravity of the North Korean nuclear issues, expressing confidence Chinese President Xi Jinping will work to resolve them.

This is the first time we have seen missile canisters of this size and design in North Korea.

That commitment, aides say, will be underscored by Pence's very personal ties to South Korea.

Last month during a visit to South Korea, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Washington's policy of "strategic patience" with Pyongyang had ended.

But North Korea did not carry out its sixth nuclear bomb test, as previously feared.

The North regularly launches short-range missiles, but is also developing mid-range and long-range missiles meant to target US troops in Asia and, eventually, the USA mainland.

  • Megan Austin