- Wed, 04/19/2017 12:36 AM
A day after the failed missile test by North Korea and two days after a power display of missiles on Pyongyang, US Vice President Mike Pence warned North Korea to not test the resolve of President Donald Trump especially after the recent US strikes in Syria and Afghanistan. Speaking along with South Korean acting president Hwang Kyo-ahn, he announced of strengthening anti-North Korea defenses by permitting the early deployment of the THAAD missile-defense system. With the aim to highlight Trump’s involvement in the increasingly volatile region to its allies, Pence is on the first stop of a four-nation Asia tour.
This month, the US Navy had not only struck a Syrian airfield with 59 Tomahawk missiles in response to a chemical weapons attack but had also dropped "the mother of all bombs", the largest non-nuclear device ever unleashed by it, in a network of caves and tunnels used by Islamic State in Afghanistan. Monday, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of Syria’s independence, North Korea's KCNA news agency carried a letter from leader Kim Jong Un to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in which it reiterated strong support and alliance to the Syrian government and condemned the United States’ recent violent invasive act against it.
While visiting the border between North and South Korea earlier in the day, Pence, whose father served in the 1950-53 Korean War, reiterated of the US standing by its "iron-clad alliance" with South Korea. He stated that no options to ensure the stability of the people of South would be ruled out as the era of strategic patience reigning till now is over. Pence will also discuss the tension of the Korean peninsula with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday when he reaches Tokyo to hold economic talks with Finance Minister Taro Aso. Before leaving Seoul, Pence will meet business leaders in Seoul while in a "listening session" he will reprise at other stops on his tour in Tokyo, Jakarta and Sydney. His economic discussions may reflect the stance.
Washington is prepared to take on trade as Trump had campaigned for office on an "America First" platform with the pledge to narrow big trade deficits with nations like China, Germany and Japan. However, Trump has shown an inclination to link trade to other issues stating that he would cut a better trade deal with China if it exerts influence on North Korea to curb its nuclear ambitions. He admitted his softer stance on China's management of its currency and was linked to its help on North Korea. Sunday, his national security adviser announced if working with its allies and China on a range of responses to North Korea's latest failed ballistic missile test to form an international consensus to act. Going against North, China had supported UN sanctions.
However, Pence and Hwang expressed concern over the retaliatory economic moves by China against the deployment in South Korea of a US anti-missile system known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) whose purpose stated is to guard against North Korean missiles. Claiming that its powerful radar can penetrate its territory and undermine its security; China spoke against it on Monday. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters in the already "highly sensitive, complicated and high risk" zone of the Korean peninsula, all sides should "avoid taking provocative actions that pour oil on the fire".