Vice President Mike Pence warned North Korea not to test the resolve of the US military on Wednesday, promising it would give an ‘overwhelming and effective’ response to any use of conventional or nuclear weapons.
Pence, who was visiting the US Yokosuka naval base in Tokyo Bay, announced that President Donald Trump’s administration would continue to ‘work diligently’ with allies like Japan, China and other global powers to apply economic and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang.
He also said the President Donald Trump was going to overhaul and simplify the US tax code which ‘will benefit every business represented here today’. In an address to the US Chamber of Commerce in Japan, Pence claimed the ‘era of over-regulation was over.’
Mike Pence Warns North Korea Not to Test Trump:
But, he told the 2,500 sailors aboard the USS Ronald Reagan in a Japanese US naval base: ‘As all of you know, readiness is the key.
‘The United States of America will always seek peace – but under President Trump, the shield stands guard and the sword stands ready.’
‘Those who would challenge our resolve or readiness should know: We will defeat any attack and meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective American response,’ Pence said.
He also said the US would protect freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, the sea lanes vital to global shipping where China has been staking claim to disputed territory.
The US Pacific Command confirmed the USS Carl Vinson strike group will be heading to the Korean region in response to the growing instability on the Korean peninsula.
A spokesman said the carrier strike group was being deployed to the western Pacific ‘as a prudent measure’.
From two continents, Pence and defense secretary Jim Mattis – who is in the Middle East – warned that North Korea’s latest failed missile launch was a reckless act of provocation and assured allies in Asia that the US was ready to work to achieve a peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Never before seen real life footage inside of North Korea:
Mattis denounced North Korea’s attempted missile launch as he began a Middle East tour, telling reporters traveling with him to Saudi Arabia: ‘the leader of North Korea again recklessly tried to provoke something by launching a missile.’
The term ‘reckless’ is one the North Koreans have used to describe ongoing large-scale US and South Korean military exercises, which the North calls a dress rehearsal for an invasion.
Mattis did not identify the type of missile used but said it was not of intercontinental range, meaning it could not reach US territory. He did not comment on what might have caused the missile to fail.
Another official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss an intelligence matter, said the missile was a Scud variant that the US calls a KN-17.
Mattis credited China with trying to help get the North Korea situation ‘under control’ with the goal of denuclearizing the peninsula. Pence’s speech on the aircraft carrier followed meetings Tuesday in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, where he noted that ‘all options are on the table.’
Abe said that it was a ‘matter of paramount importance for us to seek diplomatic efforts as well peaceable settlements of the issue.’
‘But at the same time,’ the prime minister said, ‘dialogue for the sake of dialogue is valueless and it is necessary for us to exercise pressure on North Korea so that it comes forward and engages in this serious dialogue.’
Trump and Pence, who stopped at the Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea on Monday, have signaled this week a forceful US stance on North Korea’s recent actions. But it remains unclear what might come next.
Behind the heated rhetoric, Trump’s strategy in the region looks somewhat similar to predecessor Barack Obama’s – albeit with the added unpredictability of a new president who has shown he’s willing to use force.
Pence told reporters Monday that Trump was hopeful China would use its ‘extraordinary levers’ to pressure the North to abandon its weapons program.
But the vice president expressed impatience with the unwillingness of North Korea to move toward ridding itself of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
The talk of strength was undermined slightly by the announcement by Pentagon officials on Wednesday that the USS Carl Vinison, said to have headed to the Korean Peninsula on April 8, was still languishing in the ocean near Australia.
Mattis had claimed on April 11 that the aircraft carrier’s strike fleet was on its way to North Korea as a ‘prudent measure’ to deter further escalation. But Pentagon officials told CNN on Tuesday that the ships would finally set sail within 24 hours, and the strike group wouldn’t be in the region before next week at the earliest.
Meanwhile, other countries have reacted to the US’s forceful stance in the Korean sea.
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters he hopes ‘there will be no unilateral actions like those we saw recently in Syria and that the US will follow the line that President Trump repeatedly voiced during the election campaign.’
China made a plea for a return to negotiations. Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said tensions need to be eased on the Korean Peninsula to bring the escalating dispute to a peaceful resolution.
Lu said Beijing wants to resume the multi-party negotiations that ended in stalemate in 2009 and suggested that US plans to deploy a missile defense system in South Korea were damaging its relations with China. source