SEOUL (Reuters) — U.S. Vice President Mike Pence put North Korea on notice on Monday neither the United States nor South Korea would tolerate further missile and nuclear tests, with U.S. attacks in Syria and Afghanistan showing its resolve.
Pence and South Korean acting President Hwang Kyo Ahn, speaking a day after a failed missile test by the North and two days after a huge display of missiles in Pyongyang, also said they would strengthen anti-North Korea defenses by moving ahead with the early deployment of the THAAD missile defense system.
Pence is on the first stop of a four-nation Asia tour intended to show America’s allies, and remind its adversaries, that the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump was not turning its back on the increasingly volatile region.
In a joint appearance, Pence said North Korea should mind the actions and intent of the president.
“Just in the past two weeks, the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan. North Korea would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region.”
Pence also said Trump was hopeful China “will take actions needed to bring about change in policy” in North Korea.
“But as the president has made very clear, either China will deal with this problem or the United States and our allies will,” he said.
On a visit to the border between North and South Korea earlier in the day, Pence reiterated that the U.S. “era of strategic patience” with Pyongyang was over.
Pence, whose father served in the 1950-53 Korean War, said the United States would stand by its “ironclad alliance” with South Korea and was seeking peace through strength.
“All options are on the table to achieve the objectives and ensure the stability of the people of this country,” he told reporters as tinny propaganda music floated across from the North Korean side of the so-called demilitarized zone (DMZ).
“There was a period of strategic patience, but the era of strategic patience is over.”
The United States, its allies and China are working together on a range of responses to North Korea’s latest failed ballistic missile test, Trump’s national security adviser said on Sunday, citing what he called an international consensus to act.
But Pence and Hwang said they were troubled by retaliatory moves by China against the deployment to South Korea of a U.S. antimissile system known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD).
“The United States is troubled by China’s economic retaliation against South Korea for taking appropriate steps to defend itself,” Pence said.
South Korea, which accuses China for discriminating against some South Korean companies working in China, and the United States say the sole purpose of THAAD is to guard against North Korean missiles. China says its powerful radar can penetrate its territory and undermine its security and spoke out against it again on Monday.