McMaster: North Korea 'coming to a head'

The decision to activate the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system came during talks between the acting South Korean President Hwang Kyo Ahn and Mike Pence, as the U.S. Vice President warned North Korea that the "era of strategic patience is over", The Independent says. He is in South Korea as part of a 10-day tour of Asia. It allowed the vice president to gaze at North Korean soldiers afar and stare directly across a border marked by razor wire.

Earlier Monday, Pence visited with US troops at Camp Bonifas, just south of the DMZ.

A North Korean missile exploded during launch on Sunday, US and South Korean officials said. But Pence expressed impatience with the unwillingness of the North to move toward ridding itself of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

The US has recently leaned on China - North Korea's main ally - to apply pressure to Pyongyang to curtail its nuclear ambitions.

"There was a period of strategic patience but the era of strategic patience is over".

"The president has made clear that he will not accept the United States and its allies and partners in the region being under threat from this hostile regime with nuclear weapons".

Trump himself appeared to reinforce the message at the White House, replying "Gotta behave" when a CNN reporter asked what message he had for North Korean leader Kin Jong Un.

The failed show of force by the DPRK came amid rising tensions on the peninsula, which were caused by the rare re-routing of a US aircraft carrier toward the West Pacific.

It was established by the 1953 armistice agreement which ended the Korean War, though both sides technically remain at conflict as no peace treaty has ever been signed.

The US vice president said Washington and its allies will achieve its objectives through "peaceable means or ultimately by whatever means are necessary" to protect South Korea and stabilise the region.

Meanwhile, China made a plea for a return to negotiations.

China reiterated on Monday its opposition to the deployment of a sophisticated US anti-missile system in South Korea.

Amid broader fears that North Korea may again test a nuclear bomb, the Pentagon said Sunday s missile launch was a failure, with the weapon blowing up nearly immediately after its early morning takeoff near Sinpo on North Korea s east coast.

"There is the realization that if China does cut off all transactions with North Korea, we'll be in a position where once again the dictator will not be able to pay his generals", Rep. Edward Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on CNN's State of the Union.

He said the National Security Council is working with the Pentagon and the State Department, and intelligence agencies are working on providing options "and have them ready" for President Donald Trump "if this pattern of destabilizing behavior continues".

The vice president earlier visited a military installation near the DMZ, Camp Bonifas, for a briefing with military leaders at the joint U.S.

Along with the deployment of the USA aircraft carrier and other vessels into waters off the Korean Peninsula, thousands of US and South Korean troops, tanks and other weaponry were deployed last month in their biggest joint military exercises.

Earlier in the day, Pence visited the Korean demilitarised zone (DMZ), which he described as the "frontier of freedom", according to the report.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday that Japan's government is drawing up contingency plans in case a crisis on the Korean Peninsula sends an influx of refugees to Japan. "But dialogue for the sake of having dialogue is meaningless".

He said President Donald Trump is hopeful that China will use its "extraordinary levers" to pressure the North to abandon its weapons.

Mr Pence's visit, full of Cold War symbolism, comes amid increasing tensions and heated rhetoric on the Korean Peninsula.

Tension had escalated sharply amid concern the North may conduct a sixth nuclear test or a ballistic missile test around Saturday's 105th anniversary of the birth of founding father Kim Il Sung, what it calls the "Day of the Sun".

  • Leroy Wright