Pence on Korean Border: ‘Era of Strategic Patience Is Over’

Vice president sounds hawkish tone on 38th parallel, warns 'all options are on the table'

Vice President Mike Pence issued a stern warning to North Korea Monday as the communist regime of Kim Jong-Un works to advance its nuclear and missile delivery systems: “The era of strategic patience is over.”

Speaking at a joint news conference with South Korean Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn, Pence pledged the United States’ continued “100 percent” support for South Korea just one day after North Korea botched its latest missile test. If North Korea continues its dangerous and “unlawful” testing, the vice president warned the United States will keep “all options are on the table.”

“North Korea would do well not to test his resolve — or the strength of the Armed Forces of the United States in this region.”

“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,” Pence said. “The era of strategic patience is over.”

Pence noted the rogue regime has ignored diplomatic attempts to “dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program and alleviate the suffering of their people.”

“At every step of the way, North Korea answered our overtures with willful deception, broken promises, and nuclear and missile tests,” Pence said. “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.”

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Pence alluded to President Donald Trump’s recent meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in which Trump asked Xi to aid the U.S. in isolating the increasingly belligerent North Korean regime. The vice president praised China for its commitment to fully implementing the U. N. Security Council’s resolutions in encouraging North Korea “to abandon its illicit weapons programs.” But Pence also warned China is still sending mixed messages.

“But the United States is troubled by China’s economic retaliation against South Korea for taking appropriate steps to defend itself,” Pence said. “The better path would be for China to address the North Korean threat that is actually making such defensive measures necessary.”

Calling on other world powers to unite in confronting North Korea, Pence promised South Korea that its “ironclad and immutable” alliance with the U.S. would continue to improve in the Trump administration.

“And under President Trump’s leadership, I know our alliance will even be stronger, our nations will be safer, and the Asia Pacific will be more secure,” Pence said.

The vice president noted that in the last two weeks alone, “the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan.” Pence was referring to Trump’s ordering of an airstrike in Syria in retaliation for a chemical attack that killed 80 civilians, as well as the use of the “mother of all bombs,” which killed approximately 94 Islamic State terrorists in Afghanistan and destroyed tunnels, ammunition and weapons.

“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 warned.

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“We will continue to deploy the THAAD missile-defense system as a defensive measure — called for by the alliance, and for the alliance. We will continue to evolve a comprehensive set of capabilities to ensure the security of South Korea,” Pence added. “And as our Secretary of Defense made clear here in South Korea not long ago, we will defeat any attack, and we will meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective response.”

Pence also said that his first visit to the Korean Peninsula was especially meaningful to him because his father, 2nd Lt. Edward J. Pence Jr., received the Bronze Star for his service in the U.S. military during the Korean War.

As the U.S. continues to increase its military presence near the Korean Peninsula, North Korea has threatened retaliation. North Korea’s vice foreign minister, Han Song Ryol, said in a statement Friday that “we will go to war if they choose.”

“We’ve got a powerful nuclear deterrent already in our hands, and we certainly will not keep our arms crossed in the face of a U.S. pre-emptive strike,” Han added. “Whatever comes from the U.S., we will cope with it. We are fully prepared to handle it.”

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