Vice President Mike Pence has warned that tough new sanctions will soon be implemented against North Korea.
He stated.the measures were necessary to persuade Kim Jong-un to abandon his nuclear and missile programs.
Pence described North Korea as the planet’s ‘most tyrannical and oppressive regime’.
Speaking in Tokyo on his way to the Winter Olympics in South Korea, Pence promised the U.S. and its allies, including Japan, would keep maximum pressure on Pyongyang until it began ‘complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization’.
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The U.S. Vice President is in Japan ahead of the Winter Olympics in South Korea and on Wednesday visited a display of Tokyo’s interceptor missiles
Mr Pence (right) with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera – stated.that he is in South-East Asia to reassure allies in the face of belligerent rhetoric from North Korea
Mr Pence – on a six-day trip to Japan and South Korea – described the North as the planet’s ‘most tyrannical and oppressive regime’
‘To that end, I’m announcing today the United States of America will soon unveil the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever,’ he said.
‘And we will not stop to isolate North Korea until it abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile program once and for all,’ he stated.after meeting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
American officials have refused to give details of the expected sanctions, arguing that any additional information could be used by those trying to bypass the new measures. But they are expected to be in place before the conclusion of the games.
Pence is on a six-day trip to Japan and South Korea and is seeking to reassure American allies over the growing nuclear threat posed by North Korea.
He told government leaders, military officials and U.S. service members that it is important that bellicose rhetoric coming from the North – along with its rights abuses and nuclear ambitions – do not distract attention from the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
Mr Pence promised that the U.S. and its allies, including Japan, would keep maximum pressure on Pyongyang
The U.S Vice President stated.that verifiable North Korean nuclear disarmament would be required if more sanctions were to be averted
‘We will not allow North Korea to hide behind the Olympic banner the reality that they enslave their people and threaten the wider region,’ he said.
He went on to tell Prime Minister Abe as they began their talks that ‘the United States is with you in this challenge’.
‘And we will not stop to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Japan, the people of South Korea, and our allies and partners across the region until we achieve the global objective of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.’
The Vice President watched Japanese troops demonstrate the simulated deployment of Japan’s surface-to-air missile defense system, which it is hoped will intercept a North Korean missile. He also participated in a briefing at Japan’s Ministry of Defense.
The father of Otto Warmbier (above) – an American student who died in June 2016 after being imprisoned in North Korea for 17 months – is accompanying Pence as his guest for Friday’s opening ceremony
US Vice President Mike Pence (L) and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe share a toast after meeting at the PM’s official residence in Tokyo on Wednesday
‘The people of Japan can be assured: The full range of the Armed Forces of the United States will not stop to be dedicated to the protection of Japan,’ Pence said, promising again that ‘all options are on the table’ to address the North Korean threat.
Pence will travel on to South Korea Thursday for meetings with President Moon Jae-in, where he will promote the Trump administration’s campaign of ‘maximum pressure’ against the North, as the South prepares for the Winter Olympics.
Pence is bringing as his guest the father of Otto Warmbier – an American student who died in June last year after being imprisoned in North Korea for 17 months – for Friday’s opening ceremony,
North Korea test-fired ballistic missiles over Japan last year, as well as a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile that climbed to an altitude of nearly 2,500 miles before splashing into the sea within Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
Following talks that showcased the U.S.-Japan security alliance, Abe stated.the two had agreed they could ‘never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea’.
Pence reiterated Washington’s stance that ‘all options are on the table’ to deal with the threat.
Pence’s trip to South Korea from Thursday will coincide with a visit to the Games by North Korea’s ceremonial leader, Kim Yong Nam, the most senior North Korean official to enter the South since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with a truce.
Pence had stopped short of ruling out the prospect of meeting senior North Korean officials but President Donald Trump has cast doubt on U.S. negotiations with Pyongyang any time soon.
Pence stated.that Washington wanted to promote growth based on ‘free and fair’ trade but added that regional security issues were his main reason for coming to Japan.