'The Sword Stands Ready': Mike Pence Issues Pointed Warning to North Korea


U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Japanese leaders have begun talks expected to focus largely on trade with America's anchor ally in the region, though tensions with North Korea loomed large. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told business leaders in Seoul on Tuesday the Trump administration would review and reform the five-year-old free trade agreement between the United States and South Korea.

One of the most common refrains from Trump, Pence and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has been "the era of strategic patience is over", referring to what was essentially a wait-and-see tactic to dealing with Pyongyang but is notoriously vague, says Neill. North Korea's nuclear and missile development dominated the agenda on his first stop in South Korea.

"Being aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, seeing these extraordinary soldiers, sailors, and Marines gives me great confidence that the United States' presence in the region is strong and under President Trump's leadership will be stronger still", Pence said. Japan has tried to convey to the US the importance it places on the Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral trade agreement, but Pence said at the meeting that the TPP is "a thing of the past".

The next stop on Pence's Asia tour will be Indonesia - the world's most populous Muslim nation.

While some diplomatic efforts played out openly between Mr. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Townsend said "we also ought to expect there's covert and clandestine activity on both sides".

While Pence would neither confirm nor deny that the USA military has the technology to sabotage a North Korean missile launch, cyber experts told CNN that the U.S. has the capability and could execute the action in several different ways.

"The President's decision to launch cruise missiles into Syria at the very airbase that launched a horrific chemical attack, which was the right decision", he said.

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The reality is that industrial supply chains-whether in the United States, Canada and Mexico, or in Northeast Asia or Southeast Asia-span a number of countries.

"We're already seeing our allies in South Korea and Japan and the wider world standing behind us, but China is taking unprecedented steps to economically isolate North Korea and given the fact that China represents more than 80% of the exports from North Korea is enormously important", Pence said.

Pence told the ship's captain that he had spoken to President Donald Trump, and Trump "wishes he were here".

Of those nations, China, which accounts for an estimated 90 percent of North Korea's trade, is integral to adding pressure on the regime.

Last week, President Trump said he was sending an "armada" to the Korean Peninsula as a show of force.

But the strike group was actually on its way to participate in military exercises in the Indian Ocean, some 3,500 miles in the opposite direction. A senior official at the White House blamed the error on miscommunication. Pence is now on a 10-day trip in Asia.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, center, speaks to U.S. servicemen and Japanese Self-Defense Forces personnel on the flight deck of U.S. navy nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan at the U.S. Navy's Yokosuka base. We're ready to defend our allies in this region.