Vice President Mike Pence said the “era of strategic patience is over” with North Korea, expressing impatience with the willingness of the North Korean regime to move toward ridding itself of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
Mr. Pence told reporters during a surprise visit Monday to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea that President Trump is hopeful that China will use their “extraordinary levers” to pressure the North to abandon their weapons.
He said there was a “period of patience” over the years but “the era of strategic patience is over.” He said that the Trump administration hopes their clarity will be received in North Korea, adding the U.S. and its allies will achieve its objectives through “peaceable means or ultimately by whatever means are necessary” to protect South Korea and stabilize the region.
The vice president’s visit came a day after Pyongyang conducted a failed missile test that the U.S. called a “provocation.”
Mr. Pence arrived on a Black Hawk helicopter at Camp Bonifas, South Korea, the gateway to the DMZ, where he greeted U.S. troops. The vice president received a security briefing from Gen. Vincent Brooks, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, and visited an observation post in the DMZ.
In brief remarks to reporters, Mr. Pence praised the “unshakable bond” between the U.S. and South Korea.
“My father served in the Korean War with the U.S. Army, and on the way here, we actually saw some of the terrain my father fought alongside Korean forces to help earn your freedom,” Mr. Pence said. “It’s a great honor to be with all of our forces.”
He arrived amid rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.
The Trump administration sent an aircraft carrier strike force to the waters off the Korean Peninsula last week, and President Trump has been lobbying China to pressure Pyongyang to scale back its weapons program.
Mr. Trump asserted on Sunday that China was working with the United States on “the North Korea problem.” His national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said the U.S. would rely on its allies as well as on Chinese leadership to resolve the issues with North Korea.
Mr. McMaster cited Trump’s recent decision to order missile strikes in Syria after a chemical attack blamed on the Assad government as a sign that the president “is clearly comfortable making tough decisions.” But at the same time, Mr. McMaster said on “This Week” on ABC, “it’s time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military option, to try to resolve this peacefully.”
The bottom line, Mr. McMaster said, is to stop the North’s weapons development and make the Korean Peninsula nuclear-free. “It’s clear that the president is determined not to allow this kind of capability to threaten the United States. And our president will take action that is in the best interest of the American people,” he said.
Copyright © 2017 The Washington Times, LLC.