Vice President Pence visits DMZ amid high tensions with North Korea

Posted at 11:07 PM, Apr 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-16 23:07:17-04

US Vice President Mike Pence has visited the Korean Demilitarized Zone Monday, a day after the embarrassing failure of a North Korean missile test which the US and South Korea said exploded on launch.

Pence stood within 60 meters (200 feet) of the North Korean border, saying that all US options regarding the issue were still on the table.

His visit followed an impressive parade Saturday to mark the “Day of the Sun,” the most important day in the North Korean calendar, when Pyongyang showed off an array of new missiles and launchers.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have ratcheted up in recent weeks, amid tit-for-tat saber-rattling from the US and North Korea.

On Sunday, US National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster said the problem with North Korea “is coming to a head. And so it’s time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military option, to try to resolve this peacefully.”

Last month during a visit to South Korea, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Washington’s policy of “strategic patience” with Pyongyang had ended.


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

During a briefing with Gen. Vincent Brooks, head of US Forces Korea, Pence said the alliance between Americans and South Koreans “is historic” and “a testament to the unshakeable bond between our people.”

Pence said the visit was “particularly humbling for me” as his father fought in the Korean War.

“We’re grateful to all those who each and every day stand in the gap for freedom here at the DMZ, and it’s a great honor to be with all of our forces and with the leadership represented here,” he said.

Show of force

At a major military parade to mark the “Day of the Sun” Saturday, Pyongyang showed off a bevy of new missiles and launchers.

Pyongyang showed off two new intercontinental ballistic missile-sized canisters as well as displaying its submarine-launched ballistic missile and a land-based version of the same for the first time, according to analysts.

The regime followed that — according to US and South Korean officials — with an attempted missile test Sunday from the eastern port of Sinpo. That was the site of a ballistic missile test earlier this month in which the projectile fell into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea.

If Sunday’s missile launch leads to a nuclear test or an ICBM launch, there would be “a powerful punishing measure that North Korean authority can’t endure,” South Korean officials said.

US officials told CNN they did not believe the missile had intercontinental capabilities, and blew up almost immediately after launch.