Speaking near the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, Vice President Mike Pence warned North Korea Monday that the time to end its nuclear weapons program is now.
“The era of strategic patience is over,” said Pence. “President Trump has made it clear that the patience of the United States and our allies in this region has run out and we want to see change. We want to see North Korea abandon its reckless path of the development of nuclear weapons; and, also, its continual use and testing of ballistic missiles is unacceptable.”
Calling North Korea’s failed missile launch “a provocation,” Pence said the U.S. and its allies will protect Seoul and stabilize the region through “peaceable means or, ultimately, by whatever means are necessary.”
The likelihood that Pyongyang would stage a nuclear weapons test at any moment caused the U.S. to respond ahead of Pence’s 10-day tour of Asia, which includes a visit to U.S. troops stationed in South Korea.
“This morning’s provocation from the North is just the latest reminder of the risks each one of you faces every day in the defense of the freedom of the people of South Korea and the defense of America in this part of the world,” Pence said. “Your willingness to step forward, to serve, to stand firm without fear, inspires the nation and inspires the world.”
Speaking alongside South Korean Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn, Pence said that America’s commitment to South Korea is “iron-clad and immutable.” He also has made it clear that “all options [are] on the table” to deal with the North Korean threat, noting that any use of nuclear weapons would be met with “an overwhelming and effective response.”
According to deputy national security adviser K.T. MacFarland, “North Korea is a liability to everybody and it’s a threat not just to the United States, not just to South Korea, not just to Japan, not just to Russia, but it’s actually a threat to China as well,” he told Fox News.
After parading artillery through the streets of Pyongyang on Saturday, North Korea attempted to test one of its missiles on Sunday, but it exploded just after launch.
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