Pence warns NKorea 'era of strategic patience is over'
The unannounced visit Monday at the start of his 10-day trip to Asia was 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.
The trumped-up missile launch failed "almost immediately", reports South Korean and US military officials.
As President Trump asserted on Sunday that China was working with the United States on "the North Korea problem", his vice president visited a military base near the Demilitarized Zone separating the Koreas, a day after the North conducted a failed missile launch.
The U.S. Navy sent a strike group to Korean waters last week, but defense officials have said tougher sanctions and pressure was still the favored approach to dealing with North Korea.
"We condemn dictator Kim Jong-un for persistently threatening the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the global society with nuclear weapons and missiles and murdering his half brother", group leader Park Sang-hak said.
Further, the United Kingdom media is reporting that British officials have been told by White House military advisers that the USA is considering a pre-emptive strike on North Korea's nuclear facilities.
A South Korean defense official said the action took place in Sinpo, a port city in eastern North Korea.
Pointing to Trump's recent military actions in Syria and Afghanistan, Pence said, "North Korea would do well not to test his resolve", or the US armed forces in the region.
The North regularly launches short-range missiles, but is also developing mid-range and long-range missiles meant to target US troops in Asia and, eventually, the USA mainland. The United States, South Korea and other countries have vowed to apply more pressure on the North, but so far nothing has worked to stop Pyongyang's nuclear program.
North Korea is already among the most heavily sanctioned nations, facing numerous strictures to limit its ability to conduct commerce, participate in global finance and trade in weapons and other contraband.
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"If it had been a nuclear test then other actions would have been taken from the US", the adviser told reporters on the vice president's plane.
China works to arrange talks between the USA and North Korea to avoid war.
The Trump administration is hoping that China will help rein in North Korea in exchange for other considerations.
One former high-ranking intelligence official briefed on the program said the effort was stymied by North Korea's utter secrecy and extreme isolation of its communications systems. His national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said the US would rely on its allies as well as on Chinese leadership to resolve the issues with North Korea.
In Seoul, South Korea's presidential office convened a national security council meeting to examine security postures.
Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called on North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un to avoid escalating the situation and drop its nuclear program in compliance with United Nations resolutions. "We will see what happens!" "I mean, North Korea is very vulnerable to pressure from the Chinese", McMaster said on ABC's "This Week". The failed launch occurred as Pence was flying over the Bering Sea on his way to Seoul, the first stop on a four-nation Asia tour meant to show America's allies - and remind its adversaries - that the Trump administration is not turning its back on the increasingly volatile region.
He wants to demonstrate US economic interest in the region after Trump abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade deal negotiated by former President Barack Obama.
If economic sanctions and military pressure prove ineffective, the US will ultimately face the question of whether to try to disarm the North by force.
Washington and Seoul will try hard to figure out what exactly North Korea fired. Lu said Beijing wants to resume the multi-party negotiations that ended in stalemate in 2009 and suggested that USA plans to deploy a missile defense system in South Korea were damaging its relations with China. Recent satellite imagery suggests the country could conduct another underground nuclear test at any time.
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