VP Pence visits to DMZ as tensions near Korean Peninsula rise

World Today

Mike Pence U.S. Vice President Mike Pence looks at the North side from Observation Post Ouellette in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), near the border village of Panmunjom, which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, South Korea, Monday, April 17, 2017. Viewing his adversaries in the distance, Pence traveled to the tense zone dividing North and South Korea and warned Pyongyang that after years of testing the U.S. and South Korea with its nuclear ambitions, “the era of strategic patience is over.” (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

United States Vice President Mike Pence is in South Korea amid elevated tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The visit comes after the DPRK reportedly test-fired a ballistic missile, which exploded soon after lift-off, and amid speculation of another possible nuclear test.

CGTN’s Shane Hahm reports. 

VP Pence visits to DMZ as tensions near Korean Peninsula rise

VP Pence visits to DMZ as tensions near Korean Peninsula rise

United States Vice President Mike Pence is in South Korea amid elevated tensions on the Korean Peninsula. CGTN's Shane Hahm reports.

“The U.S. policy of strategic patience with the DPRK is over,” Vice President Pence said.

With escalated tensions on the Korean peninsula, the vice president signaled that the Trump administration will not tolerate a nuclear DPRK.

“The United States and our allies have stood together for a denuclearized Korean peninsula. We hope to achieve this objective through peaceful means. But all options are on the table. 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,” Pence said.

The vice president also reaffirmed his country’s alliance with the Republic of Korea.

With Seoul under an interim leadership, there had been concern that the U.S. could conduct a pre-emptive strike on the DPRK without consulting South Korean officials.

“The alliance between South Korea and the United States is the lynchpin of peace and security on the Korean peninsula and indeed through the Asia-Pacific. The U.S. commitment to South Korea is iron-clad and immutable,” Pence said.  

During his meeting with South Korea’s acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn, the two discussed on-going plans to deploy the controversial THAAD anti-missile defense system.

As long as the DPRK continues to develop its ballistic missile technology, the two allies confirming THAAD’s installation despite opposition from neighboring countries like China and Russia.

“We have agreed to further strengthen the readiness posture of the ROK-U.S. alliance in response to the DPRK’s growing threat by ensuring the early deployment and operation of the USFK’s THAAD system,” South Korean Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn said.

Pence will travel to Tokyo for meetings with Japanese officials. Over the past two months, U.S. President Donald Trump has sent his defense chief, his Secretary of State, and now his vice president to South Korea and Japan, showing that the Trump administration remains committed to its allies in this volatile, yet strategically important region.