Vice President Mike Pence warned in Seoul today that North Korea “would do well not to test” the “resolve” of President Trump, “or the strength of the Armed Forces of the United States in this region.”
Appearing with Acting South Korean President Hwang Kyo-Ahn, Pence brought South Korea the message that the U.S. “stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the Republic of Korea, and the service and vigilance of some 37,500 U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines on this frontier of freedom stand as a testament to the enduring partnership between our people.”
“Since 1992, the United States and our allies have stood together for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. We hope to achieve this objective through peaceable means. But all options are on the table,” he said. “Just in the past two weeks, the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan.”
Pence said the United States will continued deployment of the THAAD missile defense system and “evolve a comprehensive set of capabilities to ensure the security of South Korea,” vowing to “meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective response.”
“Strategic patience has been the approach of the last American administration and beyond. For more than two decades, the United States and our allies have worked to peacefully dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program and alleviate the suffering of their people. But at every step of the way, North Korea answered our overtures with willful deception, broken promises, and nuclear and missile tests,” he continued.
“Over the past 18 months, North Korea has conducted two unlawful nuclear tests and an unprecedented number of ballistic missile tests, even conducting a failed missile launch as I traveled here for this visit. The era of strategic patience is over.”
After President Trump expressed confidence since the visit of President Xi Jinping that China will help the U.S. rein in Kim Jong-un — “Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on theNorth Korean problem?” he tweeted Sunday — Pence said Washington “is troubled by China’s economic retaliation against South Korea for taking appropriate steps to defend itself.”
“The better path would be for China to address the North Korean threat that is actually making such defensive measures necessary,” the vice president added. “Now, while issues like that remain, the President and I have great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea, but as President Trump made clear just a few short days ago, if China is unable to deal with North Korea, the United States, and our allies, will.”
Hwang said he spoke with Pence about “the gravity and urgency of North Korea’s nuclear and missile threat and agreed to double our efforts to change North Korea’s strategic calculations by further tightening the global network of pressure on North Korea and thoroughly implementing sanctions under the unwavering principle of denying North Korea nuclear weapons.”
“Furthermore under the shared view that China’s constructive efforts and role are critical, we applaud the results of the recent U.S.-China summit, and we will closely strengthen our cooperation with China. If North Korea commits another provocation, we will swiftly implement intensive punitive measures based on our cooperation with China,” the South Korean leader vowed.
“At the same time in response to North Korea’s continuously advancing nuclear and missile threat, we have agreed to continue to pursue various measures to strengthen our deterrence capabilities and combined defense posture to include extended deterrence,” Hwang added. “We have also agreed to further strengthen the readiness posture of the ROK-U.S. alliance in response to North Korea’s growing threat by ensuring the early deployment and operation of the USFK’s THAAD system.”
“In this respect I appreciate the United States taking a clear position on various occasions, including at the U.S.-China summit with regard to China’s unfair actions in connection with USFK’s deployment of THAAD. We have agree to continue to work together so that such unfair actions may come to an end at an early date.”