US VICE President Mike Pence has warned North Korea not to test Donald Trump’s resolve while declaring the “era of strategic patience” over.
Speaking from the dangerous 4km-wide Demilitarised Zone between North and South Korea yesterday, the US Vice President said “all options are on the table” for dealing with the rogue nation.
Pence said the Trump Administration was “confident” China would help to rein in North Korea but insisted the US would deal with the threat on its own if necessary.
It comes as reports emerged that US cyber intervention could have caused North Korea’s attempted ballistic missile test on Sunday to fail.
“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 US in this region,” Pence said.
“We will defeat any attack and we will meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective response.”
The vice president reiterated this afternoon that “all options are on the table” to deal with the threat posed by North Korea.
North Korea “answered our overtures with wilful deception, broken promises and nuclear and missile tests”, he said.
The US, which stations 28,500 troops in South Korea, would “defeat any attack and we will meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective response”.
ANDREW BOLT:The method behind Trump’s madness
Earlier Pence said that President Donald Trump was hopeful that China would use its “extraordinary levers” to pressure the North to abandon its weapons program, a day after the North’s failed missile launch. But Pence expressed impatience with the unwillingness of the regime to move toward ridding itself of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
Pointing to the quarter-century since the United States first confronted North Korea over its attempts to build nuclear weapons, the vice president said a period of patience had followed.
“But the era of strategic patience is over,” Pence declared.
“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.”
Pence, whose visit was unannounced, was watched by two North Korea soldiers from a short distance away. One took multiple photographs.
North Korea’s failed attempt to launch a ballistic missile on Sunday could have been due to a highly secretive US campaign of cyber and electronic warfare ordered by former President Barack Obama three years ago.
According to the New York Times, shortly after the attack was launched a number of the reclusive regime’s rockets exploded or veered off course.
Those calling for such attacks say they have offered US antimissile defences a new edge and slowed the development of such weapons.
Others have argued it is manufacturing problems and military incompetence that has resulted in the regime’s mistakes.
However former UK foreign secretary and defence secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind told the BBC he believed they cyber attacks had been successful.
“It could have failed because the system is not competent enough to make it work, but there is a very strong belief that the US — through cyber methods — has been successful on several occasions in interrupting these sorts of tests and making them fail,” he said
“But don’t get too excited by that, they’ve also had quite a lot of successful tests.
“They are an advanced country when it comes to their nuclear weapons program. That still remains a fact — a hard fact.”
PLANS TO DESTROY MISSILE SITES
DONALD Trump is considering “utterly destroying” Kim Jong-un’s nuclear sites, according to one of the President’s closest military advisers.
A source told British diplomats that America could launch pre-emptive strikes and has the firepower to smash North Korea’s nuclear program.
President Trump wants to heap pressure on China by making it clear that the US will take military action against the secretive country.
The Times reported that senior sources said the American armed forces could “utterly destroy” North Korea’s key nuclear targets using conventional weapons.
US and allies consider options on North Korea
The report came the same day as a failed ballistic missile test by the rogue state.
A former official in the Bush administration, who is privy to the Pentagon battle plans, said: “Trump is pushing the Chinese hard, but in his gut he ultimately feels he will have to take a strong step himself.
“There are plans to destroy the missile sites and the military have strong confidence in what they know.
“They wouldn’t launch a pre-emptive strike if there is an underground nuclear explosion but they would if the president thought they were launching an intercontinental ballistic missile.”
Tensions have reached boiling point in the region after an armada of US warships arrived in Korea waters including aircraft carrier the USS Carl Vinson.
The US air force’s chief of staff General David Goldfein posted a picture of the US warplanes along with the caption: “Fight’s on!”
THIS CAN’T CONTINUE
US national security adviser HR McMaster insisted Pyongyang would not be allowed to threaten its neighbours and America with a nuclear arsenal.
“This problem is coming to a head,” he said.
“And, so, it’s time for us to undertake all actions we can short of a military option to try to resolve this peacefully.”
Mr McMaster gave the blunt assessment that Pyongyang’s stance “just can’t continue” after its failed missile launch on Sunday.
The as-yet unidentified missile exploded on launch from a base in Sinpo, a city on the country’s east coast, said the US.
McMaster indicated that Washington was working with China to try and find a way out of the crisis.
“The president has made clear that he will not accept the United States and its allies and partners in the region being under threat from this hostile regime with nuclear weapons.
“And so we are working together with our allies and partners, and with the Chinese leadership, to develop a range of options.”
Amid speculation that Pyongyang may attempt another nuclear test in the coming days, Trump also signalled that China could receive a better trade situation with the US if it was constructive in dealing with the North Korean regime.
Downing Street would not be drawn on reports that Prime Minister Theresa May had privately urged Trump not to launch air strikes on North Korea.
Trump ordered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and several warships to the area to highlight US concern at the situation, as China expressed fears war could erupt “at any moment”, while Pyongyang warned it could launch a nuclear strike if it feels threatened.
PENCE’S SURPRISE VISIT
US Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise visit to the Korean Demilitarised Zone, while visiting the Asia region for the first time.
Pence was transported by helicopter to Camp Bonifas, which is about 2km from the southern boundary of the Korean DMZ.
He was briefed by the Commander of US Forces in Korea General Vincent Brooks before visiting the Freedom House observation post.
At Camp Bonifas, Pence spoke of “the unshakable bond” between America and Korea.
“My father served in the Korean War with the US Army, and on the way here, we actually saw some of the terrain my father fought alongside Korean forces to help earn your freedom,” he said.
“It’s a great honour to be with all of our forces.”
Earlier Pence pledged the US would help its allies in the region bring “freedom” to the Korean peninsula.
He branded Pyongyang’s failed missile launch a “provocation”.
Meanwhile, on Sunday Mr Trump signalled in an early morning tweet that his administration was working with China to deal with the rogue state.
“Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem?” Mr Trump wrote.
“We will see what happens!” he added.
His tweet echoed his national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who said on Sunday that an international consensus that includes China has now emerged that North Korea’s “threatening behaviour” cannot go on.
Mr McMaster said: “I think there’s an international consensus now, including — including the Chinese and the Chinese leadership — that this is a situation that just can’t continue.”
Speaking from Afghanistan on US ABC, he made a point of stating several times that China — North Korea’s key ally — is now concerned about the reclusive communist state’s behaviour.
SHORTEN URGES CHINA TO TAKE BIGGER ROLE
Meanwhile, Australian Opposition Leader Bill Shorten waded in to the regional crisis saying China should exert “influence” over North Korea following revelations of the failed missile test.
Mr Shorten also told reporters in Melbourne on Sunday he was grateful for the “strong presence” of the United States in the Pacific region. “We do need, I think, countries in the region, including China, to exert what influence they have on North Korea,” he said.
Kim Jong-un enraged the US by staging yet another ballistic missile test on Sunday which was an embarrassing flop after exploding on launch.
South Korea’s military reported the attempt near the Sinpo region, the same area from which the North tested a ballistic missile last month.
The incident is likely to escalate the rising tensions between the US and North Korea over Pyongyang’s rogue nuclear weapons ambitions.
It came a day after the parade marking 105 years since the state’s found Kim Il-sung was born.
North Korea has tested several missiles recently.
They launched a long-range rocket and conducted two nuclear tests last year, including its most powerful to date, as well as carrying out a slew of shorter range missile firings.
A smirking Kim Jong-un watched a fervent military parade just hours after telling America: “We’re ready for war.”
US SHOCKED BY KIM’S MILITARY HARDWARE
Chief among the devastating arsenal on show during the parade was a KN-08 rocket, thought to be capable of flying more than 7,000 miles — within range of Los Angeles, New York and Washington DC.
US military experts reacted with shock to the display, as one admitted “we’re floored right now”.
Shell-shocked North Korean experts admit the secretive nation now appears far more advanced than previously thought.
Dave Schmerler, a research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in California, told The Wall Street Journal: “We’re totally floored right now. I was not expecting to see this many new missile designs.”
Also on display was the similarly devastating KN-14 rocket.
Thousands of heavily-armed North Koreans marched through capital Pyongyang alongside the missiles as the smiling despot lapped up the adoration of his fanatical military — many reduced to tears by his mere presence.
Only hours earlier a top general had told state TV: “We’re prepared to respond to an all-out war with an all-out war.”
North Korean military official Choe Ryong-Hae said: “If the United States wages reckless provocation against us, our revolutionary power will instantly counter with [an] annihilating strike … with our style of nuclear strike warfare.”
Choe’s menacing words carried extra threat given many Western commentators consider him the country’s second-in-command.
Due to the growing obsolescence of North Korea’s conventional military capabilities, North Korea has pivoted towards a national security strategy based on asymmetric capabilities and weapons of mass destruction. As such, it has invested heavily in the development of increasingly longer range ballistic missiles, and the miniaturization of its nascent nuclear weapons stockpile. North Korea is reliant on these capabilities to hold U.S., allied forces, and civilian areas at risk. North Korea’s short- and medium-range systems include a host of artillery and short-range rockets, including its legacy Scud missiles, No-Dong systems, and a newer mobile solid-fueled SS-21 variant called the KN-02. North Korea has also made strides towards long-range missile technology under the auspices of its Unha (Taepo-Dong 2) space launch program, with which it has demonstrated an ability to put crude satellites into orbit. North Korea has displayed two other long-range ballistic missiles, the KN-08 and KN-14, which it claims have the ability to deliver nuclear weapons to U.S. territory, but thus far these missiles have not been flight tested. North Korea’s ballistic missile program was one of the primary motives by the decision to develop and deploy the U.S. Ground-based Midcourse system for defense of the United States homeland.