Pence reassures Japan of commitment to rein in N Korea

Frederick Owens
April 19, 2017

From the wind-swept deck of a massive aircraft carrier, Vice-President Mike Pence on Wednesday warned North Korea not to test the resolve of the us military, promising it would make an "overwhelming and effective" response to any use of conventional or nuclear weapons.

Trump and Pence, who stopped at the Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea on Monday, have signalled this week a forceful USA stance on North Korea's recent actions.

North Korea tried to test a missile on Sunday, but it failed in a fiery explosion.

While Defense Secretary Jim Mattis denounced North Korea's weapons test as he began a Mideast tour, Vice President Mike Pence offered support to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo amid a trip dominated by concerns about the rogue state's nuclear intentions.

"We appreciate the challenging times in which the people of Japan live with increasing provocations from across the Sea of Japan", Pence said.

South Korea's acting President Kyo-ahn said South Korea would "ensure the early deployment and operation" of a US THAAD anti-ballistic missile system which is now in the country.

In a sign of Beijing's hardening attitude, the Global Times, a state-run tabloid, said in an editorial on Monday that China could enforce "stricter measures" against North Korea, including a ban on oil exports, or join a USA -led effort to block the North's access to worldwide financial markets.

North Korea's deputy representative to the United Nations Kim In Ryong also said that Pyongyang's next nuclear test would take place 'at a time and a place where the headquarters deems necessary'.

North Korea could react to a potential USA strike by targeting South Korea or Japan, and officials in Tokyo and Seoul have been ill at ease with the more bellicose language deployed by Trump's administration.

More news: Pence reassures Japan as North Korea threatens 'weekly' tests

That's according to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who was speaking at an event in Seoul on Tuesday hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce, his last stop in the country.

North Korea objects to a UN Security Council meeting scheduled for April 28, and to be chaired by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, created to show the global community's resolve in dealing with North Korea's nuclear program.

It has said it has developed a missile that can strike the mainland United States, but officials and experts believe it is some time away from mastering the necessary technology, including miniaturising a nuclear warhead. It is vital for Korea and the build on this alliance for regional stability.

Kim In Ryong told a news conference that "if the USA dares opt for a military action", North Korea "is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S".

"President Trump is very hopeful that the Chinese will undertake to use the considerable leverage that they have over the economic lifeblood of the North Korean economy", she said.

"As the President says, it's time for them to behave, to listen to the world community and to set aside their nuclear ambitions, their ballistic missile ambitions, and be willing to join the family of nations", Mr Pence told CNN.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday that China was ready to work "with all relevant countries" within the framework of the UN Security Council. His national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said the USA would rely on its allies as well as Chinese leadership to resolve the issues with North Korea. Like South Korea, Japan already faces a direct threat from the secretive regime. China's exports to North Korea rose more than 54 per cent as Pyongyang became more reliant on its ally for daily necessities and imports rose by 18 per cent.

He said that an "all-out war" would result if the U.S. took military action.

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