US VP warns North Korea: 'era of strategic patience is over'

Missiles

Vice President Mike Pence warned in Seoul today that North Korea "would do well not to test" the "resolve" of President Trump, "or the strength of the Armed Forces of the United States in this region".

Pointing to Mr Trump's recent military actions in Syria and Afghanistan, Mr Pence said North Korea "would do well not to test his resolve", or the United States armed forces in the region. Han said an "all out war" between Pyongyang and Washington would occur if the US was "reckless enough to use military means".

Mr Pence made the unannounced visit at the start of his 10-day trip to Asia in a USA show of force that allowed the vice-president to gaze at North Korean soldiers from afar and stare directly across a border marked by razor wire.

Appearing later with South Korea's acting president, Hwang Kyo-ahn, the vice president pointed to Trump's recent military actions in Syria and Afghanistan as signs that the new administration would not shrink from acting against the North.

The new and inexperienced USA president has indicated he will not allow North Korea to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the western United States.

Just ahead of Pence's arrival in Seoul, North Korea attempted and failed to launch an unidentified missile in its latest weapons test, further raising global concerns.

Pence's visit came amid increasing tensions and heated rhetoric on the Korean Peninsula. The Trump administration has labeled this policy "maximum pressure and engagement", although officials acknowledge there is no current engagement with Pyongyang. Pence's remarks also came with hope for a diplomatic path. Washington, he said, was looking for security "through peaceable means, through negotiations".

Ryong added that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has made it clear that failures don't deter him or his rocket scientists.

In oil markets, Brent crude traded at around $55.35 a barrel on Monday, down 0.97 percent, while US crude was around $52.61 a barrel, down 1.05 percent.

While the era of strategic patience may be over, the Trump administration is clearly taking some kind of strategic steps. Last week, Trump said he would not declare China a currency manipulator, pulling back from a campaign promise, as he looked for help from Beijing, which is the North's dominant trade partner.

He went on to say that "the DPRK is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S".

So why the recent escalation of tensions with North Korea?

A top White House foreign policy adviser on Sunday became the latest Trump official to warn that while diplomatic pressure was preferable, USA military action is very much on the table. China also made a plea for a return to negotiations, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang saying Beijing wants to resume the talks that ended in stalemate in 2009.

He said rolling back the hostile US policy toward the DPRK "is the precondition to solving all the problems in the Korean Peninsula".

But he will no doubt address worries in Washington that any new government may slow-walk the deployment of THAAD - a system created to shoot down missiles from North Korea or elsewhere.

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