News and Commentary

Mike Pence Sends Stern Warning To North Korea: We Will Meet Any Attack With ‘Overwhelming And Effective Response’

Delivering a statement Monday at the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), Vice President Mike Pence put North Korea on notice:

“On behalf of the president of the United States, my message to the people of South Korea is this: We are with you 100%. Even in these troubled times, we stand with you for a free and secure future. The United States of America stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the Republic of Korea – and the service and vigilance of some 37,500 U.S. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines on this frontier of freedom stands as a testament to the enduring partnership between our people.

The alliance between South Korea and the United States is the linchpin of peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, and indeed throughout the Asian Pacific. The United States’ commitment to South Korea is ironclad and immutable, and under President Trump’s leadership, I know our lands will even be stronger, our nations’ will be safer, and the Asian Pacific will be more secure…

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, or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region. We will continue to deploy the THAAD missile defense system as a defensive measure, called for by the alliance and for the alliance. We will continue to evolve a comprehensive set of capabilities to ensure the security of South Korea. And as our Secretary of Defense made clear here in South Korea not long ago, we will defeat any attack, and we will meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective response…

Strategic patience has been the approach of the last American administration and beyond. For more than two decades, the United States and our allies have worked to peacefully dismantle North Korea’s nuclear program, and alleviate the suffering of her people. But at every step of the way, North Korea answered our overtures with willful deception, broken promises, and two nuclear and missile tests. Over the past 18 months, North Korea has conducted two unlawful nuclear tests and an unprecedented number of ballistic missile tests – even conducting a failed missile launch as I traveled here for this visit. The era of strategic patience is over…

Earlier this month, president Trump met with Chinese president Xi at the southern White House. The two leaders noted the urgency of the threat posed by North Korea’s weapons programs, and each of them reaffirmed their commitment to a denuclearized Korean Peninsula during that meeting on April 7th. They also committed to fully implement U.N. Security Council resolutions and to increase cooperation to convince North Korea to abandon its illicit weapons program.

It is heartening to see China commit to these actions, but the United States is troubled by China’s economic retaliation against South Korea for taking appropriate steps to defend itself. The better path would be for China to address the North Korean threat that is actually making such defensive measures necessary.

Now, while issues like that remain, the president and I have great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea. But as president Trump made clear just a few short days ago, if China is unable to deal with North Korea, the United States and our allies will.”

What exactly does Pence mean when he says “the era of strategic patience is over”? During an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash, the vice president said: “…we’re going to redouble our efforts to bring diplomatic and economic pressure to bear on North Korea. Our hope is that we can resolve this issue peaceably…I know the President was heartened by his discussions with President Xi (Jinping). We’ve seen China begin to take some actions to bring pressure on North Korea but there needs to be more.”